The UK population is ageing and the likelihood of having a long term health condition
increases with age. Three out of every five people over 60 in the UK have a long term
condition. Ageing and having a long term condition increases the chance of having difficulty
being independent and carrying out day to day activities. In recent years the NHS has made a
greater effort to prevent these difficulties in patients with long term conditions.
One approach to help patients with long term conditions is case management, where by
(usually) a community matron visits patients at home, looking for early warning signs of any
worsening of their condition and arranging care and treatment. But the current way this is
done varies across the country and hospital admissions are still rising. In order to give the
right care at the right time, effective monitoring is needed to help the community matron
detect and act on changes in the patient's condition.
Loss of muscle strength in old age is linked to a poor health, but it is not known whether
simple measures of muscle strength could be used to detect and predict declines in health in
the short to medium term to help maintain independence and prevent an accident or hospital
The aim of this study is to look at whether monitoring muscle strength in case managed
patients is practical, acceptable and useful in detecting when a patient's condition worsens.
Each patient will be visited by the researcher in their home twice in the first week, then
once every two weeks, for another 5 weeks, to carry out three simple measures of grip and
respiratory strength, and complete questionnaires about their health and ability to carry out
day to day activities. Each visit will last about 20 to 30 minutes. A small group of
clinicians will be asked about their views of the strength measures. Database analysis will
allow descriptive data on the patient group to be gathered and analysed.