Soignants, philosophes et sociologues examinent les effets de la pandémie de Covid-19 sur les grands principes éthiques. Ils abordent la situation des personnes vulnérables, le système de soin, l'éthique en contexte ou encore les relations entre santé et environnement.
En 2016, Guylaine Champagne apprend qu'elle est atteinte d'un cancer du poumon de stade IV. Malgré une rémission, la maladie revient et le diagnostic de fin de vie est annoncé. Avec ce témoignage livré dans ses journaux intimes, l'auteure se dévoile dans toute sa vulnérabilité et son authenticité. Elle invite à la réflexion sur le sens profond de la vie au-delà de la maladie.
Contexte : La recherche sur laquelle s’appuie cet article a été réalisée au cours d’un contrat doctoral en psychologie clinique. La question déployée autour des intentions et processus psychiques dans les prises de décisions à la place d’autrui dans les situations de fin de vie, a permis la mise en place d’une recherche de terrain par le biais d’observations et d’entretiens auprès de professionnels de soins palliatifs. Parmi les trois « triangulations cliniques » examinées dans la thèse, nous choisissons de nous arrêter sur une configuration particulière qui nous permet de mettre en exergue les affects négatifs qui prennent parfois place dans la relation de soin et la manière dont ceux-ci habitent les décisions que nous prenons à la place de nos patients.
Objectifs : Dans cette présentation, nous tentons de mettre en lumière certains mouvements inconscients qui nous semblent inhérents à la relation d’aide à la personne vulnérable, mais exacerbés lors de la rencontre avec des patients "déviants" (non compliants, dans le refus, etc.). Nous verrons comment cette négativité, prise dans des alliances inconscientes (R. Kaës, 2009), peut générer des situations qui relèvent parfois d’une véritable violence du soin (Ciccone et al., 2014) qu’il semble essentiel de mieux identifier afin de garantir une véritable éthique des processus décisionnels qui imprègnent les pratiques soignantes.
Méthode : Le recueil de données s’appuie sur des entretiens de recherche et des temps d’observation réalisés au sein de deux unités de soins palliatifs (USP) situées en France, organisés en deux sessions de 13 journées et/ou nuitées. Les entretiens ont été réalisés sous la forme d’une discussion guidée avec plusieurs professionnels (médecins, infirmières, aides-soignantes ou psychologues) volontaires. Les "triangulations cliniques" sont l’aboutissement d’un travail de recomposition au sujet d’un patient accueilli dans l’USP (1er point) à partir des notes d’observations de la chercheuse (2e point) et du discours des professionnels (3e point). Dans cet article, c’est le récit de M. Aïe qui est présenté parmi les trois triangulations cliniques soutenant le travail de thèse, dans ce qu’il offre la possibilité d’une mise en perspective de plusieurs niveaux de complexité autour de la négativité et des décisions prises à la place d’autrui.
Résultats : Cette présentation offre une occasion de penser le soin ainsi que la décision prise à la place d’autrui dans des dynamiques nouvelles. Les résultats cliniques obtenus à partir de la méthode de recherche originale mise en place dans la thèse montrent toute la fécondité d’un travail qui repose sur l’analyse des situations complexes à partir d’une triangulation clinique, cette triangulation permettant d’étudier les enjeux subjectifs susceptibles de s’exprimer à différents niveaux. C’est par ailleurs la perspective groupale qui est ici mise en relief, notamment au travers les alliances inconscientes basées sur le négatif de certaines situations de soin. Le récit de M. Aïe nous permet d’illustrer comment la haine se diffuse inconsciemment au sein des décisions prises pour la personne vulnérable. Ces conséquences nous appellent à déployer des stratégies pour tenter de symboliser ces affects déliants.
Conclusion : Décider à la place de l’autre vulnérable n’est une mince affaire pour personne et convoque chaque "décideur" dans ce qu’il a éprouvé à être le sujet vulnérable d’une décision prise par autrui : la figure du nourrisson en étant l’originaire (Ciccone, Bonnefoy, Bonneville, Calamote, & Deronzier, 2012). Face aux situations extrêmes de la vie où se jouent la précarité ontologique du sujet, depuis le début jusqu’à la toute fin de la vie, peut-être faut-il se saisir de positions subversives (Pacific, 2011) pour travailler l’idée qu’envisager la maltraitance comme potentiel du soin peut être un préalable à la bientraitance.
Chaque personne et chaque collectif cherche le meilleur chemin éthique pour soulager au mieux la personne qui affronte des moments de solitude, mais il y a un enjeu de société à associer l'accueil de nos vulnérabilités. Si l'hospitalité et la sollicitude étaient concrétisées dans la marche courante de la société tout entière, en faisant du lien social un vrai projet de société, nous serions moins démunis face aux vulnérabilités et mieux préparés à affronter et à vivre la mort.
Les éditeurs de la revue Etudes ont compilé une série d'articles publiés entre 2005 et 2011 sur la notion de "prendre soin" :
-Introduction d'Agatha Zielinski : Que signifie "prendre soin" ?
-Pour une médecine de l'incurable, Céline Lefève et Jean-Christophe Mino (Juin 2008)
-Violence de la maladie, entretien avec Claire Marin (Juillet 2008)
-Former de vrais thérapeutes, Jean-Christophe Mino, Marie-Odile Frattini, Emmanuel Fournier (Février 2011)
-L'éthique du Care, une nouvelle façon de prendre soin, Agatha Zielinski (décembre 2010)
-Postface de Patrick Verspieren, "Le pacte de soin" à partir de l'article "Malade et médecin partenaires" (Janvier 2005)
Frailty assessed using Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) is a good predictor of adverse clinical events including mortality in older people. CFS is also an essential criterion for determining ceilings of care in people with COVID-19. Our aims were to assess the prevalence of frailty in older patients hospitalised with COVID-19, their sex and age distribution, and the completion rate of the CFS tool in evaluating frailty.
Methods: Data were collected from thirteen sites. CFS was assessed routinely at the time of admission to hospital and ranged from 1 (very fit) to 9 (terminally ill). The completion rate of the CFS was assessed. The presence of major comorbidities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease was noted.
Results: A total of 1277 older patients with COVID-19, aged = 65 (79.9 ± 8.1) years were included in the study, with 98.5% having fully completed CFS. The total prevalence of frailty (CFS = 5) was 66.9%, being higher in women than men (75.2% vs. 59.4%, p < 0.001). Frailty was found in 161 (44%) patients aged 65–74 years, 352 (69%) in 75–84 years, and 341 (85%) in =85 years groups, and increased across the age groups (<0.0001, test for trend).
Conclusion: Frailty was prevalent in our cohort of older people admitted to hospital with COVID-19. This indicates that older people who are also frail, who go on to contract COVID-19 may have disease severity significant enough to warrant hospitalization. These data may help inform health care planners and targeted interventions and appropriate management for the frail older person.
Background: Increasing numbers of people die of the frailty and multimorbidity associated with old age, often without receiving an end-of-life diagnosis. Compared to those with a single life-limiting condition such as cancer, frail older people are less likely to access adequate community care. To address this inequality, guidance for professional providers of community health care encourages them to make end-of-life diagnoses more often in such people. These diagnoses centre on prognosis, making them difficult to establish given the inherent unpredictability of age-related decline. This difficulty makes it important to ask how care provision is affected by not having an end-of-life diagnosis.
Aim: To explore the role of an end-of-life diagnosis in shaping the provision of health care outside acute hospitals.
Design and setting: Qualitative interviews with 19 healthcare providers from community-based settings, including nursing homes and out-of-hours services.
Method: Semi-structured interviews (nine individual, three small group) were conducted. Data were analysed thematically and using constant comparison.
Results: In the participants’ accounts, it was unusual and problematic to consider frail older people as candidates for end-of-life diagnosis. Participants talked of this diagnosis as being useful to them as care providers, helping them prioritise caring for people diagnosed as ‘end-of-life’ and enabling them to offer additional services. This prioritisation and additional help was identified as excluding people who die without an end-of-life diagnosis.
Conclusion: End-of-life diagnosis is a first-class ticket to community care; people who die without such a diagnosis are potentially disadvantaged as regards care provision. Recognising this inequity should help policymakers and practitioners to mitigate it.
Quand le grand âge gagne une personne, quand elle se souvient plus des morts que des vivants, quand les capacités physiques et intellectuelles s’affaiblissent, la fin de la vie semble légitimement redoutable et inhumaine.
Nous rêvons tous d’avoir une belle vie. Et nous rêvons tous secrètement d’avoir une belle mort, épargnés d’une fin de vie marquée par la souffrance et le non-sens. Et pourtant, la fin de vie, quelle qu’en soit la forme, fait partie de la vie. Et à ce stade de son existence, l’être humain reste un vivant.
L’existence humaine est inscrite dans le temps. Toute vie se déploie entre un début et une fin. L’homme est fragile, quelques dizaines d’années après sa naissance et c’en est fini de lui. Tout ce que nous pouvons faire de notre existence sera toujours confronté à cette réalité qu’est la mort.
Et en même temps, aucun parcours ne se ressemble… Il y a autant de fins de vie qu’il y a d’individus. La manière de traverser les derniers moments avant de mourir est propre à chaque personne. Personne ne peut vivre la fin de la vie à la place d’un autre. Certes, on peut repérer des similitudes entre ce qui est vécu par les gens au terme de leur existence.
La pandémie à COVID-19 touche particulièrement les personnes les plus âgées et expose à un risque de mortalité les plus fragiles. Des mesures de confinement, de distanciation sociale et d’isolement ont été mises en place pour limiter la propagation virale. S’il existe un rationnel clair pour réduire la contagiosité de l’infection par ce biais, les conséquences néfastes de cet isolement social, en particulier pour cette population hétérogène, âgée et fragile sont difficiles à appréhender. En particulier, la rupture avec les structures habituelles de support et de soutien à domicile ou en institution, mais aussi le risque d’une diminution de « l’empowerment » de la personne âgée par rapport à ses propres décisions de santé et de vie sociale, imposent une vigilance particulière pour éviter un risque d’âgisme sociétal. Il peut ainsi exister, en regard de cette population particulière, des conflits de valeurs entre protection individuelle et collective, d’une part, et respect de l’autonomie et de l’indépendance, d’autre part. Cet article propose une réflexion éthique de la question du confinement des personnes âgées à risque de fragilités, s’appuyant sur des principes de l’éthique médicale, pour ouvrir les pistes de réflexion qui permettent une approche positive de la vulnérabilité, garante du respect de la dignité de la personne et de l’équité dans l’accès aux soins.
During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, principles from both clinical and public health ethics cue clinicians and healthcare administrators to plan alternatives for frail older adults who prefer to avoid critical care, and for when critical care is not available due to crisis triaging. This article will explore the COVID-19 Ethical Decision Making Framework, published in British Columbia (BC), Canada, to familiarize clinicians and policy makers with how ethical principles can guide systems change, in the service of frail older adults. In BC, the healthcare system has launched resources to support clinicians in proactive advance care planning discussions, and is providing enhanced supportive and palliative care options to residents of long-term care facilities. If the pandemic truly overwhelms the healthcare system, frailty, but not age alone, provides a fair and evidence-based means of triaging patients for critical care and could be included into ventilator allocation frameworks.
BACKGROUND: A critical barrier to improving the quality of end-of-life (EOL) cancer care is our lack of understanding of the mechanisms underlying variation in EOL treatment intensity. This study aims to fill this gap by identifying 1) organizational and provider practice norms at major US cancer centers, and 2) how these norms influence provider decision making heuristics and patient expectations for EOL care, particularly for minority patients with advanced cancer.
METHODS: This is a multi-center, qualitative case study at six National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Centers. We will theoretically sample centers based upon National Quality Forum (NQF) endorsed EOL quality metrics and demographics to ensure heterogeneity in EOL intensity and region. A multidisciplinary team of clinician and non-clinician researchers will conduct direct observations, semi-structured interviews, and artifact collection. Participants will include: 1) cancer center and clinical service line administrators; 2) providers from medical, surgical, and radiation oncology; palliative or supportive care; intensive care; hospital medicine; and emergency medicine who see patients with cancer and have high clinical practice volume or high local influence (provider interviews and observations); and 3) adult patients with metastatic solid tumors and whom the provider would not be surprised if they died in the next 12 months and their caregivers (patient and caregiver interviews). Leadership interviews will probe about EOL institutional norms and organization. We will observe inpatient and outpatient care for two weeks. Provider interviews will use vignettes to probe explicit and implicit motivations for treatment choices. Semi-structured interviews with patients near EOL, or their family members and caregivers will explore past, current, and future decisions related to their cancer care. We will import transcribed field notes and interviews into Dedoose software for qualitative data management and analysis, and we will develop and apply a deductive and inductive codebook to the data.
DISCUSSION: This study aims to improve our understanding of organizational and provider practice norms pertinent to EOL care in U.S. cancer centers. This research will ultimately be used to inform a provider-oriented intervention to improve EOL care for racial and ethnic minority patients with advanced cancer.
Background: Advance care planning (ACP) among frail, older adults receiving in-home care is low. Leveraging case managers to introduce ACP may increase engagement.
Objective: Pilot an ACP-Toolkit for case managers and their clients.
Design: Feasibility pilot of an ACP-Toolkit for case managers to introduce ACP and the PREPAREforYourCare.org website and advance directives.
Setting/Subjects: Case managers from four local aging service organizations who referred English-speaking clients =55 years old.
Measurements: Using validated surveys (five-point Likert scales), we assessed changes in case managers' attitudes, confidence, and readiness to facilitate ACP and clients' readiness to engage in ACP from baseline to follow-up (one-week) using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.
Results: We enrolled 9 case managers and 12 clients (median age 69 [standard deviation 8], 75% minority race/ethnicity). At follow-up, case managers' confidence increased (3.2 [0.7] to 4.2 [0.7]; p = 0.02), and clients' readiness increased (2.8 [1.5] to 3.4 [1.4]; p = 0.06). All case managers agreed the Toolkit was easy to use, helped start ACP conversations, and would recommend it to others. All clients found the Toolkit easy to understand and were comfortable with case managers using it. Nearly all clients (92%) would recommend it to others. Suggestions for improvement included offering the Toolkit in other languages and disseminating it in clinical and community settings.
Conclusions: The ACP-Toolkit resulted in higher case manager confidence in facilitating ACP and client readiness to engage in ACP, and usability was high. A brief ACP-Toolkit may be a feasible solution to increase ACP engagement among frail, older adults receiving in-home care.
Background: This retrospective cohort study aims to define the clinical findings and outcomes of every patient admitted to a district general hospital in Surrey with COVID-19 in March 2020, providing a snapshot of the first wave of infection in the UK. This study is the first detailed insight into the impact of frailty markers on patient outcomes and provides the infection rate among healthcare workers.
Methods: Data were obtained from medical records. Outcome measures were level of oxygen therapy, discharge and death. Patients were followed up until 21 April 2020.
Results: 108 patients were included. 34 (31%) died in hospital or were discharged for palliative care. 43% of patients aged over 65 died. The commonest comorbidities were hypertension (49; 45%) and diabetes (25; 23%). Patients who died were older (mean difference ±SEM, 13.76±3.12 years; p<0.0001) with a higher NEWS2 score (median 6, IQR 2.5–7.5 vs median 2, IQR 2–6) and worse renal function (median differences: urea 2.7 mmol/L, p<0.01; creatinine 4 µmol/L, p<0.05; eGFR 14 mL/min, p<0.05) on admission compared with survivors. Frailty markers were identified as risk factors for death. Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) was higher in patients over 65 who died than in survivors (median 5, IQR 4–6 vs 3.5, IQR 2–5; p<0.01). Troponin and creatine kinase levels were higher in patients who died than in those who recovered (p<0.0001). Lymphopenia was common (median 0.8, IQR 0.6–1.2; p<0.005). Every patient with heart failure died (8). 26 (24%) were treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP; median 3 days, IQR 2–7.3) and 9 (8%) were intubated (median 14 days, IQR 7–21). All patients who died after discharge (4; 6%) were care home residents. 276 of 699 hospital staff tested were positive for COVID-19.
Conclusions: This study identifies older patients with frailty as being particularly vulnerable and reinforces government policy to protect this group at all costs.
Use of medications of questionable benefitis common in end-of-life care. In order to effectively carry out deprescribing, it is important to gain insight into the perspectives of patients and their relatives. Thus, our objective was to explore perspectives on deprescribing among older adults with limited life expectancy and their relatives. We conducted semi-structured interviews with ten nursing home residents and nine relatives. Interviews were analysed using systematic text condensation. Four main themes were identified: "Medication as a necessity and to feel well", "Frailty as a barrier for taking responsibility", "Patient autonomy and faith in authority", and "A wish for being involved". Most participants had not considered the possibility of deprescribing but were open towards medication change if proposed by a health care professional. Most participants did not have in-depth knowledge about medication but would like to be informed or involved in decisions. The participants generally had faith in health care professionals despite limited contact. Our study implies that older adults with limited life expectancy and their relatives are generally interested in deprescribing activities; however, the initiative of deprescribing lies with the health care professionals.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review seeks to identify the current prevalence of potentially life-limiting respiratory conditions among those who have experienced homelessness, incarceration or had criminal justice involvement, and current developments in, and barriers to, delivery of supportive and palliative respiratory care to these populations. These structurally vulnerable populations are known to be growing, their health behaviours more risky, and their morbidity and mortality higher, with evidence of accelerated ageing.
RECENT FINDINGS: Most studies identified investigated prevalence of respiratory conditions, which were found to be high. In contrast, only one study directly explored supportive and palliative care (in a prison population) and none considered or addressed palliative and end-of-life needs of these populations, or mechanisms to address them. There was an absence of qualitative work and studies of the impact on, or role of, family, friends or informal networks.
SUMMARY: There is a need for evidence-based interventions to reduce the risk of communicable respiratory conditions and a greater understanding of disease trajectories and management for these vulnerable populations, including provision of accessible appropriate supportive, palliative and end-of-life care.
In order to plan the right palliative care for patients and their families, it is essential to have detailed information about patients' needs. To gain insight into these needs, we analyzed five Italian local palliative care networks and assessed the clinical care conditions of patients facing the complexities of advanced and chronic disease. A longitudinal, observational, noninterventional study was carried out in five Italian regions from May 2017 to November 2018. Patients who accessed the palliative care networks were monitored for 12 months. Sociodemographic, clinical, and symptom information was collected with several tools, including the Necesidades Paliativas CCOMS-ICO (NECPAL) tool, the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), and interRAI Palliative Care (interRAI-PC). There were 1013 patients in the study. The majority (51.7%) were recruited at home palliative care units. Cancer was the most frequent diagnosis (85.4%), and most patients had at least one comorbidity (58.8%). Cancer patients reported emotional stress with severe symptoms (38.7% vs. 24.3% in noncancer patients; p = 0.001) and were less likely to have clinical frailty (13.3% vs. 43.9%; p < 0.001). Our study confirms that many patients face the last few months of life with comorbidities or extreme frailty. This study contributes to increasing the general knowledge on palliative care needs in a high-income country.
Background: Pancreatic cancer primarily affects older adults and is associated with a high morbidity and mortality. Identifying frail patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (APC) helps to mitigate the risks of chemotherapy (CT). The modified Frailty Index (mFI) is an 11-point deficit measure used to identify frail patients. Although validated in surgical fields, it has not been assessed in an APC population.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study evaluated consecutive patients, aged =65 years, diagnosed with APC from 2011 to 2016 and treated with first line palliative-intent CT. mFI was categorized as: 0, 1, 2 and = 3. Descriptive analysis was completed comparing patient characteristics, CT toxicity, response to treatment, and overall survival (OS) by mFI score.
Results: 87 patients with APC received palliative CT. Median age was 71 (65–88), 54% male. A mFI score of 0, 1, 2, and = 3 occurred for 20 (23%), 28 (32.2%), 25 (28.7%) and 14 (16.1%) patients respectively. Patients with mFI scores of 0–1 were more likely to receive: 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan and oxaliplatin. CT toxicity, emergency room (ED) and urgent cancer clinic (UCC) presentation, and hospitalization length did not differ by mFI. Longer OS was associated with better ECOG and receipt of combination CT.
Conclusion: This is the first assessment of the mFI in an APC population receiving CT. The mFI score did not correlate with toxicity, ED/UCC visits, hospitalization length or OS. Ongoing assessment of tools that accurately identify frailty in patients with APC is critical to help better select candidates for aggressive CT.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on health-care systems. Frailty is being used in clinical decision making for patients with COVID-19, yet the prevalence and effect of frailty in people with COVID-19 is not known. In the COVID-19 in Older PEople (COPE) study we aimed to establish the prevalence of frailty in patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to hospital and investigate its association with mortality and duration of hospital stay.
METHODS: This was an observational cohort study conducted at ten hospitals in the UK and one in Italy. All adults ((=18 years) admitted to participating hospitals with COVID-19 were included. Patients with incomplete hospital records were excluded. The study analysed routinely generated hospital data for patients with COVID-19. Frailty was assessed by specialist COVID-19 teams using the clinical frailty scale (CFS) and patients were grouped according to their score (1-2=fit; 3-4=vulnerable, but not frail; 5-6=initial signs of frailty but with some degree of independence; and 7-9=severe or very severe frailty). The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality (time from hospital admission to mortality and day-7 mortality).
FINDINGS: Between Feb 27, and April 28, 2020, we enrolled 1564 patients with COVID-19. The median age was 74 years (IQR 61-83); 903 (57·7%) were men and 661 (42·3%) were women; 425 (27·2%) had died at data cutoff (April 28, 2020). 772 (49·4%) were classed as frail (CFS 5-8) and 27 (1·7%) were classed as terminally ill (CFS 9). Compared with CFS 1-2, the adjusted hazard ratios for time from hospital admission to death were 1·55 (95% CI 1·00-2·41) for CFS 3-4, 1·83 (1·15-2·91) for CFS 5-6, and 2·39 (1·50-3·81) for CFS 7-9, and adjusted odds ratios for day-7 mortality were 1·22 (95% CI 0·63-2·38) for CFS 3-4, 1·62 (0·81-3·26) for CFS 5-6, and 3·12 (1·56-6·24) for CFS 7-9.
INTERPRETATION: In a large population of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, disease outcomes were better predicted by frailty than either age or comorbidity. Our results support the use of CFS to inform decision making about medical care in adult patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a substantial mortality risk with increased rates in the elderly. We hypothesized that age is not sufficient, and that frailty measured by preadmission Palliative Performance Scale would be a predictor of outcomes. Improved ability to identify high-risk patients will improve clinicians' ability to provide appropriate palliative care, including engaging in shared decision-making about life-sustaining therapies.
AIM: To evaluate whether preadmission Palliative Performance Scale predicts mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
DESIGN: Retrospective observational cohort study of patients admitted with COVID-19. Palliative Performance Scale was calculated from the chart. Using logistic regression, Palliative Performance Scale was assessed as a predictor of mortality controlling for demographics, comorbidities, palliative care measures and socioeconomic status.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Patients older than 18 years of age admitted with COVID-19 to a single urban public hospital in New Jersey, USA.
RESULTS: Of 443 admitted patients, we determined the Palliative Performance Scale score for 374. Overall mortality was 31% and 81% in intubated patients. In all, 36% (134) of patients had a low Palliative Performance Scale score. Compared with patients with a high score, patients with a low score were more likely to die, have do not intubate orders and be discharged to a facility. Palliative Performance Scale independently predicts mortality (odds ratio 2.89; 95% confidence interval 1.42-5.85).
CONCLUSIONS: Preadmission Palliative Performance Scale independently predicts mortality in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Improved predictors of mortality can help clinicians caring for patients with COVID-19 to discuss prognosis and provide appropriate palliative care including decisions about life-sustaining therapy.
There are many additional considerations when treating older adults with cancer, especially in the context of palliative care. Currently, radiation therapy is underutilised in some countries and disease sites, but there is also evidence of unnecessary treatment in other contexts. Making rational treatment decisions for older adults necessitates an underlying appraisal of the person's physiological reserve capacity. This is termed 'frailty', and there is considerable heterogeneity in its clinical presentation, from patients who are relatively robust and suitable for standard treatment, to those who are frail and perhaps require a different approach. Frailty assessment also presents an important opportunity for intervention, when followed by Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) in those who require it. Generally, a two-step approach, with a short initial screening, followed by CGA, is advocated in geriatric oncology guidelines. This has the potential to optimise care of the older person, and may also reverse or slow the development of frailty. It therefore has an important impact on the patient's quality of life, which is especially valued in the context of palliative care. Frailty assessment also allows a more informed discussion of treatment outcomes and a shared decision-making approach. With regards to the radiotherapy regimen itself, there are many adaptations that can better facilitate the older person, from positioning and immobilisation, to treatment prescriptions. Treatment courses should be as short as possible and take into account the older person's unique circumstances. The additional burden of travel to treatment for the patient, caregiver or family/support network should also be considered. Reducing treatments to single fractions may be appropriate, or alternatively, hypofractionated regimens. In order to enhance care and meet the demands of a rapidly ageing population, future radiation oncology professionals require education on the basic principles of geriatric medicine, as many aspects remain poorly understood.