NHS staff are encouraged to experience the age-simulation suit as part of a training programme to raise awareness of the difficulty patients with restricted mobility may have when undertaking simple, everyday movements.
Speaking about the benefits of this type of training, Bev Malone, IoW NHS Trust Memory Service Liaison Nurse said:
“The suit is to raise awareness and for everyone to experience, from clinical and non clinical staff, Consultants, Doctors, Porters, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals, both at the hospital and in the community. We want all staff to have the opportunity to gain an understanding and to enable staff to empathise with those of the older population who, as they get older, may experience reduced flexibility, rigidity of movement and the potential impact this may have on daily living, for example, when your neck doesn’t move or you’re in a bit of a stoop, simple, everyday movements feel almost impossible to you.
“The suit is an excellent way to take training onto the hospital wards without pulling staff away from the workplace and it really gets staff thinking about how people with restricted mobility feel when they’re lying in bed, as a patient, and how slow and unbalanced their movements can be. It is really interesting to watch staff experiencing the suit and their reaction. Everyone takes something away with them, all have experienced a sense of increased vulnerability and disempowerment, whether it’s an understanding of the difficulty of a task as simple as putting a spoon to their mouth or brushing their hair and finding their elbows have restricted movement, they quickly gave up due to the effort that was involved. Staff may believe that a patient has left their meal as they are not hungry when in fact it might be that they are fatigued by the effort involved or anxious that that they may drop their food or drink. It was really good for staff to experience that within the ward environment.”
The age-simulation suit was kindly funded by the Friends of St. Mary’s. The Memory Service hope to be able to purchase additional items such as gloves which simulate trembling of the hands, knee braces to give restriction and overshoes which simulate an unsteady gait.
Bev Malone continued:
“The suit certainly raises interest which is what we wanted. The experiential training is what people really engage with and we are looking forward to taking it around to all the hospital wards and out into the community. Looking to the future we will be making the suit available for hire to external organisations who are interested in experiencing it.”