The Frailty In Residential Sector over Time (FIRST) study: methods and baseline cohort description

Agathe Daria Jadczak, Leonie Robson, Tina Cooper, J. Simon Bell, Renuka Visvanathan, on behalf of the FIRST Study Collaborators, Jonathan Karnon, Rachel Milte, Julie Ratcliffe

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Background: The Frailty In Residential Sector over Time (FIRST) Study is a 3-year prospective cohort study investigating the health of residents living in residential aged care services (RACS) in South Australia. The study aims to examine the change in frailty status and associated health outcomes.

Methods: This interim report presents data from March 2019–October 2020. The study setting is 12 RACS from one organisation across metropolitan and rural South Australia involving 1243 residents. All permanent (i.e. respite or transition care program excluded) residents living in the RACS for at least 8 weeks were invited to participate. Residents who were deemed to be medically unstable (e.g. experiencing delirium), have less than 3 months to live, or not fluent in English were excluded. Data collected included frailty status, medical diagnoses, medicines, pain, nutrition, sarcopenia, falls, dementia, anxiety and depression, sleep quality, quality of life, satisfaction with care, activities of daily living, and life space use at baseline and 12-months. Data Linkage will occur over the 3 years from baseline.

Results: A total of 561 permanent residents (mean age 87.69 ± 7.25) were included. The majority of residents were female (n = 411, 73.3%) with 95.3% (n = 527) being classified as either frail (n = 377, 68.2%) or most-frail (n = 150, 27.1%) according to the Frailty Index (FI). Most residents were severely impaired in their basic activities of daily living (n = 554, 98.8%), and were at-risk of malnutrition (n = 305, 55.0%) and at-risk of sarcopenia (n = 492, 89.5%). Most residents did not experience pain (n = 475, 85.4%), had normal daytime sleepiness (n = 385, 69.7%), and low anxiety and depression scores (n = 327, 58.9%).

Conclusion: This study provides valuable information on the health and frailty levels of residents living in RACS in South Australia. The results will assist in developing interventions that can help to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in aged care services.

Trial registration: Prospectively registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12619000500156).

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • Aged care
  • Aging
  • Frailty
  • Nursing homes
  • Older adults


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