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Pictured from left to right are PhD students – Emily Hladkowicz, Stacey Hatch, and Mary Beth MacLean.

The Canadian Frailty Network 2019 National Conference

Written By: Emily Hladkowicz & Stacey Hatch

From individual presentations and trainee poster sessions, to panel discussions and interactive “body breaks”, the 2019 National Conference on Frailty had it all. This jam-packed two day conference included time for networking, particularly for the Canadian Frailty Network trainees. It was exciting to see people connecting from all across Canada, driven by the same passion for improving the care of older adults with frailty and their caregivers.

Day 1 included a presentation about the exceptional healthcare practices in Denmark, a panel on identifying frailty, and two fun exercise breaks, one led by Canada’s National Ballet School and the other led by Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod from “Body Break”! Our very own Dr. Catherine Donnelly and AGHE PhD Candidate Sarah Dolsen gave presentations; Dr. Donnelly spoke about the OASIS project and how to best support older adults to live independently for as long as possible. Sarah, a 2018-19 Fellow with CFN, presented her experiences of recruiting caregivers into her Quality Improvement project during the panel session on Hearing the voices of people living with frailty and their caregivers. We are so proud of Sarah and her involvement with CFN! AGHE PhD Candidate and 2019-20 CFN Fellow, Emily Hladkowicz, presented two posters at the conference, one for her role on a CFN-funded project through the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and one for her role as an incoming CFN Fellow.

Day 2 included a talk from Dr. Ken Rockwood of Dalhousie University about the differences between frailty screening and assessment and how these processes inform care planning for acutely ill patients. A panel then discussed the challenges and opportunities for identifying frailty in the home and within healthcare settings. Presentations about identifying frailty outcome measures, nutrition and physical activity, and frailty biomarkers led to thought-provoking and challenging questions, including “How might one’s sense of purpose, or lack thereof, contribute to frailty?” Day 2 also showcased AGHE PhD Candidate Mary Beth MacLean, who presented on the potential of data sources on Veteran health and functioning to examine the care needs of Veterans. Mary Beth shared a historical overview of programs for aging Veterans.

Attendees were asked to participate in an interactive session on connection, teaching us all how to be authentic and effective in team meetings, as we all know how difficult it can be to truly be ourselves in professional settings. The conference ended with two talks on prioritizing medication optimization and assessing frailty in primary care, both of which sparked important dialogue. Awards included the Conference Choice Storyboard and three trainee posters – check out @CFN_NCE on Twitter for details!

The CFN conference provides an important opportunity for our AGHE PhD students to meet with peers from across Canada, learn about research projects and opportunities, and share their own research.