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County people experiencing frailty set to benefit from academic’s insight

Date 14.11.2019

Giving people who are experiencing frailty better health and social care is the driving ambition of a University lecturer whose new appointment will see her champion their needs and voices.

Dr Kim Stuart – Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy – has started a new role as Senior Commissioning Manager for Frailty working across the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) for Nene and Corby, supporting a national commitment to create a society that enables people to age well.

CCGs are NHS bodies responsible for planning and commissioning health and care services for their local area. Although other CCGs have or are due to appoint frailty leads, it’s unusual for academics or occupational therapists to fill that role.

Kim’s new position – which will last until June 2020 – will run alongside her teaching at the University of Northampton, where she will continue lecturing for two days a week.

NHS England recently published a long-term plan for providing better care for people who are experiencing frailty and the Northamptonshire CCGs are tasked with delivering a five-year strategy to realise this.

Kim will work with existing teams to make sure Northamptonshire’s plans are fully aligned with national requirements, looking at the evidence base and local data about frailty to make sure the county has the right services and the right care processes in place for people in the county experiencing frailty.

Kim qualified as an occupational therapist in 1997 and has lectured at the University of Northampton since 2004.

Among her recent achievements, she implemented first of its kind training in assessing the needs of those experiencing frailty, for undergraduate students.

She also added Dr to her official title this summer, after completing her Doctor of Professional Practice at the University. Her thesis was titled: ‘An evaluation of healthcare professionals’ decision-making in the care of frail older people at end of life’.

Of her appointment, Kim said: “There is a huge culture shift about frailty and how we better care for those experiencing it. Now, there is a coming together of knowledge and experience about how to better manage frailty, an area I am passionate about, so it’s an amazing time to be a part of this direction of travel.

“I have been determined to make sure my doctorate is more than a proudly framed achievement on the wall, putting into action what I have spent time researching, making connections across Northamptonshire and understanding the systems already in place and how they can be augmented to achieve the most.

“I have a grandmother in her nineties and I feel the older generation are so important to us it’s vital not to let their worlds shrink as they age. This is what drives me and gets me out of bed in the morning – not just making a difference, but having a real impact on the quality of older people’s lives.

“One ambition of the University’s Changemaker ethos is to help make Northamptonshire one of the healthiest in the country and I feel deeply privileged to follow the lead with this new position.”