Community nursing staff from across Lincolnshire will soon be able to gain a better understanding of the physical challenges of old age by using an age simulation suit.
The Gerontologic Test suit (GERT), which has different elements that can be worn from head to toe, will be used to enhance training at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.
“I always like to try and use experiential learning in teaching sessions”
Each part is designed to make the wearer feel the physical effects often associated with old age, such as joint stiffness, loss of strength and reduced grip, coordination and head mobility.
It can also change the opacity of the eye lens, narrow the visual field and simulate high-frequency hearing loss.
The suit, which cost around £2,000, was bought with donations from the trust’s Charitable Funds charity, which supports innovative projects that would not be funded by the NHS.
Age simulation suit helps nursing staff ‘empathise’
Donna Phillips, sister and clinical nurse lead on Scotter Ward at John Coupland Hospital in Gainsborough, was behind efforts to purchase the suit.
“This suit is going to be a valuable addition to the resources available to us for training and in helping our colleagues to empathise with some of the conditions which commonly affect our patients,” she said.
“I had seen a suit similar to this being used in a hospital on social media while I was working in my previous role as clinical nurse educator,” she said. “When Charitable Funds became available, I started to explore whether we could use something similar here.
“I always like to try and use experiential learning in teaching sessions, as it makes it much more meaningful to those taking part,” she said.
She added: “I am particularly looking forward to being able to use the tremor simulator as part of our Parkinson’s Disease awareness sessions.”
The GERT suit will complement an empathy suit already in use at the trust for moving and handling training for bariatric patients.
Outpatients sister Brenda Farr, who was among those to test the suit, said: “This will be fantastic for our staff. It gives you a greater understanding of what our patients experience.”