The hope is that through this activity participants build empathy and are better able to understand and appreciate how older adults experience differ from their own and the challenges that may exist for them in the Emergency Department (ED).
Geriatric immersive simulation is a type of experiential learning where participants wear a physical suit that mimics some of the physical and sensory changes that adults may develop as they age. The hope is that through this activity participants build empathy and are better able to understand and appreciate how older adults experience differ from their own and the challenges that may exist for them in the Emergency Department (ED).
This experience can be used in numerous settings, such as part of medical training. It is currently integrated into geriatric curriculum for emergency medicine residents. It can also be used for training purposes for allied health within the ED. Further, it can be used to guide changes within the ED to optimize the physical environment and to develop ED protocols and procedures for older patients.
The suits can be purchased as a unit (such as the one above), or can easily be made for a lesser cost by purchasing individual items. Once participants donned the suits, we asked them to complete a variety of common ED tasks, such as collecting a “urine” sample, completing intake forms, opening medication bottles and taking correct medications, and much more!
We recently presented this at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) conference in June 2023 at the Learning Expo and received a lot of participant engagement about the concept. Participants mentioned numerous learning points including developed increased patience for older adults, appreciated the challenges for those with visual and hearing impairment and how this impacts the simple tasks we ask of them, and recognized that we can make common things in the ED more geriatric-friendly.
If you are interested in learning more or how to make your own suit, please see this article for additional information and resources:
Alice Gray, Rebecca Schonnop, Canada