Research project to explore whether digital coaching can support people with frailty

A project led by BU’s Professor Jane Murphy will explore whether digital coaching can support older people with frailty.

The DONOR project (Digital cOachiNg fOr fRailty) will investigate whether a digital approach could be used alongside support from health coaches to help the lifestyle management of frailty in its early stages.

Frailty is a condition that affects one in ten people over the age of 65. It means people are at higher risk of falls, disability and poorer quality of life.

As the population ages, frailty also impacts on health and social care services because of the need for more GP appointments and increased hospital and care homes admissions.

With many now having access to the internet and digital tools such as smartphones, the DONOR project will look at whether these technologies can reduce the burden on health and care services by offering person-centred care and advice.

It will work with patients and carers from across the Wessex region to test a digital approach, alongside training health coaches to use digital tools and measure how well it works for people with frailty.

The project will be led by Professor Jane Murphy, Professor in Nutrition at BU, alongside partners from University of Southampton, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, The Adam Practice, Dorset CCG, Wessex AHSN, and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

It is one of eight new projects to have been awarded a share of £1.2 million by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex.

Professor Murphy said: “With an ageing population and greater numbers of older people with frailty, this research offers a new digital approach combined with a health coach, to improve health and live well by accessing person-centred advice and care, reducing the burden on health and social care services.

“We will work together with people with frailty, carers, health coaches and health care professionals to develop and test a new digital approach, implemented across Dorset and West Hampshire. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with our project partners and hope this new and exciting research will lead to wider implementation across Wessex and go further afield.”