Blog Post: CFN Trainee Reflects on 2019 National Conference

November 6, 2019

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 CFN 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 [supporting] 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 PhD Candidate Sarah Dolson 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 shared 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! PhD Candidate and 2019-20 CFN Fellow, Emily Hladkowicz, shared 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 about the differences between frailty screening and assessment and how this informs 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 produced engagement from attendees and some very thought-provoking and challenging questions, including “how might one’s sense of purpose, or lack thereof, contribute to frailty?” PhD Candidates Stacey Hatch and Emily Hladkowicz continue to discuss this existential question and the need for research in this area. Day 2 also showcased PhD student 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, wearing her poppy-covered blouse, shared a historical overview of programs for aging Veterans, and she did an exceptional job. 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 2019 National Conference on Frailty for details!

The CFN conference provides an important opportunity to meet with our peers. Learning about research projects and opportunities, as well as sharing our own research, is essential to supporting older adults with frailty. Please consider attending next year, and better yet, submitting a poster or presentation idea!

There was good representation from the Queen’s Aging & Health program at the 2019 CFN conference. Pictured from left to right are PhD students – Emily Hladkowicz, Stacey Hatch, and Mary Beth MacLean. Missing from this photo is PhD student Sarah Dolsen who was also in attendance.