A specially designed age simulation suit is giving NHS staff across Lincolnshire the chance to gain a greater understanding of the physical strains their patients suffer.
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 (LCHS).
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 even change the opacity of the eye lens, narrow the visual field and simulate high-frequency hearing loss.
The GERT cost approximately £2,000 and has been bought using donations from LCHS’s Charitable Funds – a registered charity which supports innovative projects to enhance services and facilities that would not be funded by the NHS.
Sister Donna Phillips, Clinical Nurse Lead on Scotter Ward at John Coupland Hospital, Gainsborough, said: “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.
“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 a Clinical Nurse Educator.
“When Charitable Funds became available I started to explore whether we could use something similar here at Lincolnshire Community Health Services.
“I always like to try and use experiential learning in teaching sessions as it makes it much more meaningful to those taking part.
“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 LCHS in moving and handling training for bariatric patients.
Outpatients Sister Brenda Farr was among those to have tested the GERT suit. She said: “This will be fantastic for our staff. It gives you a greater understanding of what our patients experience. I’ve really enjoyed being able to take part in testing the suit.”