Renal Frailty is a quality improvement project to improve the experiences and outcomes for frail or older patients with advanced kidney disease by integrating assessment and support into routine care.

Information for patients and carers about being an older person with kidney failure

What is frailty?

As we get older, we can experience more health problems and this accumulation can lead to a condition commonly known as frailty, which is a problem that describes a decline in a person’s state of health. While many older people are living well, some may not have the reserves to cope with minor changes in their physical or mental health and wellbeing. A person’s level of independence can fluctuate, but people living with frailty may find it more difficult to retain their level of independence if they experience a change in their health.

How is frailty recognised?

There are several ways to assess frailty, but your GP or kidney nurse will ask you some questions about how you manage on a daily basis. Many people with kidney failure notice that they have slowed down and may be depending on family or carers. Others may have noticed that they are not as mobile as they used to be, cannot walk as far and may even have had the occasional fall.

Individualised care

Understanding how frailty may affect you as your kidney function changes is important and you may be offered more information about treatment options as your general health declines. Your kidney doctor or nurse can talk about this with you so that your kidney care can be focused around your needs and what is important to you.

How might kidney disease and frailty feel?

You may already be needing help to manage your daily life or find that you have slowed down in some ways, and this is important as taking on some kidney treatments may not resolve those problems or improve your quality or length of life.

How can you help to look after yourself? 

Not all illnesses can be avoided, but living a healthy lifestyle can prevent some and keep you feeling stronger. Taking regular exercise, eating a healthy diet to maintain a normal weight and not smoking are good ways to help prevent long term health conditions developing. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, then it is important to monitor your blood sugars and blood pressure and to get advice from your nurse or doctor.


Find more information on the Blood Pressure UK website

What can be done to help if I have been told I have frailty?

It is possible to live with frailty and it is possible to slow down or even reverse some of the problems that frailty has caused you. Each person is individual and has unique needs, so will have treatment options and a care plan made available to them so that the right plan is made, in line with your wishes and medical team’s opinion. Your GP can help by referring you or your family member(s) to the support you might need or you or your family can learn more about how to go about finding ways to help you.

Links for further information


This site helps to guide you on the different ways to exercise even if you are limited in movement; disabled or have many health problems.


Link to AKCC page


Main contact details

Referral pathway

No referrals are currently being accepted as part of the project. However, if you consider that a patient you may be referring has frailty, please inform the team you are referring in to using a clinical frailty score. Where you suspect frailty, it may be also be helpful to complete a CGA to identify interventions to meet an individuals’ needs and signpost them to the additional care and support within the local community alongside your referral.

Patient information leaflets