Models of care for frail older persons who present to the emergency department: A scoping review of the literature

Ya Ling Huang*, Megan McGonagle, Rebecca Shaw, Julie Eastham, Nemat Alsaba, Chun Chih Lin, Julia Crilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: People aged ≥65 years comprise approximately 20 % of all emergency department (ED) presentations. Frailty amongst this cohort is common yet can go undetected. 

Objective: To summarise the evidence regarding models of care for frail older people in the ED. 

Methods: The Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review framework was used. Literature searches were conducted in five electronic databases published from 2009 to 2022. Original research that met the criteria: frail older people aged ≥65 years, models of care and ED were included. 

Results: A total of thirteen articles met the criteria for inclusion in this review. These comprised four studies of frailty care models and nine studies of care models using different assessment tools to identify frail older people. Care models were comprised of various specialist team members (e.g., geriatrician/ED physician and nurse). Processes underpinning these models included tools to support clinicians in the assessment of frail older adults, particularly around functional status, comorbidities, symptom distress, quality of life, cognition/delirium, and social aspects. Outcomes of care models for frail older people included: shorter ED length of stay, lower hospital admission rates, cost savings and increased patient satisfaction rates. 

Conclusion: A variety of models, supported by a variety of assessment tools, exist to identify and guide care delivery for frail older people in the ED. Careful consideration of existing policies, guidelines and models is required before implementing new service models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101250
JournalInternational Emergency Nursing
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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