Age simulator helps students experience life as a frail or elderly patient

Students at Colchester Hospital are finding out how challenging it can be to live with frailty thanks to the introduction of an Age Simulator kit.

The kit includes earplugs and goggles to impair hearing and vision and also features a back brace which produces a stooped and unnatural posture.

Meanwhile, knee restrictors make moving the joints difficult, gloves and finger restrictors reduce the sense of touch, while there is also a walking stick and wrist and ankle weights to simulate weakened muscle power.

Falls prevention practitioner and occupational therapist Joanne Field, said: “The kit is invaluable and gives staff and students a really good insight into the kinds of impairments that older adults might be facing and how that has an effect on care.

“An older person might be quite comfortable in the familiar environment of their own home but if they are suddenly brought into hospital, on a ward with four or five other people, and they suddenly have to get up in the middle of the night to try and get to the bathroom it can be quite disorientating and could cause delirium.”

Student nurse Ella Hessey, who tried the Age Simulator, said: “It was very impairing, especially the vision aspect, while the restrictions on my hands meant pouring a drink required a lot more skill than normal.

Ella added: “Walking with a stick, I found myself trying to lean to one side to over-compensate so I can see how easy it would be, especially if it was slippery, for someone to have a fall.”

The hospital plan to make the simulator available for anyone who needs it for team events or training.