The Yorkshire and Humber Community Ageing Research 75+ Study (CARE75+) involves the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR), based at BRI, and is looking to understand why some people remain fit and resilient in older age while others develop health problems and frailty.
Project Lead, Professor John Young of the BIHR told me: “Frailty is a medical term used to describe a decline in a person’s body. People with frailty often have weak muscles, walk slowly and get exhausted very easily. Some people are better able to cope with these changes but we don’t know why.
“It’s important for all of us to think about how we can maintain good health in older age and this research will support people in healthy ageing.”
Project Manager, Anne Heaven added: “If people hear the word frailty, they think it’s the beginning of the end but this need not be the case. This study is particularly exciting and valuable because this is not usually an age group that is recruited from for research.
“The benefits for those taking part include earlier detection of unmet needs through assessments, and the results will ultimately lead to developing more appropriate health and social care services for older people in the future.”
The study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Yorkshire and Humber programme, and its Chief Investigator is Dr Andy Clegg, who is a Consultant Geriatrician on Ward 3 at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Andy explained: “Many older people remain fit and independent into older age, but some can develop frailty and need help with day to day activities. The CARE 75+ study will help us find out how best to maintain health, independence and wellbeing in older age.
“We are extremely grateful to all the older residents of Bradford and the surrounding area who have joined the study, and for the way that they have welcomed our research team into their homes. The success of the study is also a tribute to our fantastic research team, and many of our study participants have commented on their kind and caring manner.”
The first recruits joined the study back in December 2014 and because the 200th patient has just been recruited, this means the pilot target has been met; the study aims to recruit up to 1,000 older people nationwide and follow them for up to four years, collecting information on a whole range of issues that could affect their health and wellbeing.
Patients are currently recruited from GP practices across five different sites – Tong, Manningham, Saltaire, Shipley and Rawdon. So far, slightly more women – 57 per cent – are taking part.
The study involves looking at the medications patients are taking and home visits by researchers who carry out a number of assessments and tests including memory and cognition and physical activity and mobility. Patients are also asked about factors that affect their health such as loneliness and pain.
To date two sub studies have also begun: NANA – Novel Assessment of Nutrition and Ageing, and SoReLL – Study of Resourcefulness in Later Life.
There have been lots of positive comments from those involved with the study – both from researchers and recruits – and that around 70 participants were invited to a ‘celebration’ afternoon tea in the splendour of the French ballroom of the Midland Hotel in Bradford to thank them for their contribution so far. Excitingly, the study has now commissioned a series of portraits of participants from renowned photographer Ian Beesley.
Please contact Anne.Heaven@bthft.nhs.uk if you have any queries or would like to get involved with the project.