Focus on Frailty breakout session: Functional Assessment for People Living with Frailty
Functional Assessment for
People Living with Frailty
Lucy Elloway – Team Lead Physiotherapist – Frailty and Interface Team Queen Alexandra Hospital,
Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust (firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DerhamLucy
Sarah Mercer – Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow and Occupational Therapist – University of
Southampton and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (email@example.com Twitter:
To be able to understand the purpose of functional assessment
for a person living with frailty
To understand the implication of hospital admission on a person
living with frailty’s function and the impact it can have
To consider the practicalities of functional assessment in
To understand when to refer to a physiotherapist/occupational
therapist for functional assessment
What is a functional assessment?
Based on Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Teased out from a thorough Social History – as part of
Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA)
The functional assessment element of the CGA compromises of:
gait, balance, abilities to carry out activities of daily living (both
fundamental and basic) and activity/exercise status.
Sit to stand
Washing and dressing
When should a therapist be involved?
When the situation is complex:
Physiological/cognitive personal factors
Once you’ve identified the issues:
For advice/second opinion
For specific physiotherapy or occupational therapy intervention.
Practice guidance states that functional assessment relating to falls at home is completed by an
occupational therapist (Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2015)
Effective group exercise programmes have been shown to reduce falls by 29% and the risk of falls
by 15% (Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, 2014)
Why complete a functional assessment?
Frailty is associated with increased hospital admissions
and poorer outcomes (Coelho et al, 2015)
but functional assessment highlights key areas for
intervention, which can reduce a person’s frailty
status (Woo, Leung and Morley, 2012; Trevisan et al., 2017).
The quicker we assess a frail persons function whilst in hospital the better
the outcome will be for that patient.
Prevention of hospital based deconditioning
Link to quality of life and mental well being
Timed Up and Go
Starts with patient sitting in chair
Measure 3 metres and mark a spot
On go, the patient must stand up,
walk to the marked point, return
to the chair and sit down
You must time how long it takes to
the patient to complete this
6 minute walk test
Used to measure endurance
Measure distance of 30m
Place chairs at either end
Object is to walk as far as you can
in 6 minutes
It is recommended that you
measure HR whilst performing this
in order to see how the patient
responds to increase demands on
75% of over 75s have reduced balance which will increase their risk of falls
Timed Unsupported Stand (TUSS) – static balance
Supportive environment – something in front/behind
Begin timing as the patient lets go of supporting surface
Stop timing as soon a they have to steady themselves
Can modify for one handed or two handed
Turn 180 – dynamic balance
Patient starts in standing
Ask them to turn to the left 180 degrees – count number of steps
Ask them to turn to the right 180 degrees – count the number of steps
Ensure you have supporting surfaces around to ensure patient feels
Activities of Daily Living
Think of a task, activity or hobby you completed yesterday.
What did you need to be able to do it?
Functional Assessment in Community Settings
It’s a privilege and a challenge.
Many of the fundamental functional skills translate to more
complex activities of daily living.
Start small. Think BIG.
The problem with assessment…
Frailty Category by Grip Strength (Romero-Ortuno et al. 2010)
‘Robust’ ‘Pre-Frailty’ ‘Frailty’
Functional assessment highlights likely limitations for
people living with frailty and is our opportunity to reduce
their effect, improve outcomes and allow people to live
the life they want to live.
It’s the responsibility of ALL clinicians who work with
people living with frailty, but refer to physiotherapists and
occupational therapists for targeted intervention.
Coelho, T. et al. (2015) 'Frailty as a predictor of short-term adverse outcomes', PeerJ, 3, pp.
Farrell M. (2004) Using functional assessment and screening tools with frail older adults.
Topics in geriatric rehabilitation 2004;20(1):14-20.
Romero-Ortuno, R. et al. (2010) 'A frailty instrument for primary care: findings from the
Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)', BMC Geriatrics, 10, pp. 57-57.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists. (2015) Occupational therapy in the prevention and
management of falls in adults: practice guideline. Royal College of Occupational Therapists,
Specialist Section Older Adults: London.
Simpson J, Worsford C (1996) ‘Simple test of balance for frail old people’(abstract from
proceedings of the Society for Research in Rehabilitation held at the Royal Hospital for
Neurodisability, Putney, UK, Jan11 1996 (Clinical Rehabilitation 10 :354)
Trevisan, C. et al. (2017) 'Factors influencing transitions between frailty states in elderly
adults: The Progetto Veneto Anziani Longitudinal Study', Journal of the American Geriatrics
Society, 65(1), pp. 179-184.
Woo, J., Leung, J. and Morley, J. (2012) 'Comparison of frailty indicators based on clinical
phenotype and the multiple deficit approach in predicting mortality and physical limitation',
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60(8), pp. 1478-1486.