By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager
As the elderly population increases, demand for nurses and caregivers trained to work with geriatric patients will grow – and so will the need for 21st Century educational tools that help prepare today’s students for success in geriatric careers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that careers in geriatrics and gerontology will increase by 20 percent through 2020. Four of the top six occupations deal with geriatric care: personal care aids, registered nurses, home health aides and nursing assistants. We believe that for a successful career, these professionals will not only need academic knowledge and technical skills, but will need to be able to demonstrate geriatric sensitivity. Such a skill will help these professionals gain a more positive view of older adults and build empathy for older adults in their care, ultimately helping them become more effective caregivers.
One way to provide geriatric sensitivity training to today’s 21st Century students is by enabling them to personally experience age-related physical changes.
Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs are already preparing students to be career-ready geriatric care workers through courses in nursing and health occupations, work-based learning experience such as lab facilities and clinical internships, student organizations like the Future Health Professionals and opportunities to earn Certified Nursing Assistant certifications. With the right educational tools, CTE professionals can engage students even further on topics related to aging, care for the elderly and the physical effects of aging on the body.
The RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator is a sensitivity suit that enables users to personally experience age-related physical changes. Combined with comprehensive curriculum, the Geriatric Simulator gives the wearer hands-on experience with the many real-life conditions that geriatric patients deal with on a daily basis. These conditions include:
- Visual impairment
- Restricted range of motion
- Decreased mobility
- Stooped posture
- Loss of sensation in hands
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of strength
- Change in body image
- Decreased sense of balance
Compassion and understanding are key to providing care for geriatric patients. If you “walk in the shoes” of an older adult, you’re much more likely to provide appropriate care because you understand the challenges that daily tasks can present. By enabling students to personally experience age-related physical changes, students become more sensitive to what their patients are going through – and with increased sensitivity comes improved care.
This Geriatric Simulator and curriculum is designed for a multitude of programs, including Health Occupations pathways, CNA training and Family and Consumer Sciences pathways, including Human Development and Interpersonal Relationships courses. Its comprehensive curriculum includes geriatrics and gerontology career exploration, visual impairment, declining mobility due to aging, the impact of aging on bones and joints, hearing loss and more.
It is vital that educators utilize 21st Century technology that truly works for our future workforce. Realityworks’ RealCareer Geriatric Simulator was designed to help CTE professionals teach today’s students the skills they need to succeed in a growing field. Providing aging awareness training for future healthcare workers will ensure a career-ready workforce.
- [FREE WEBINAR] This month: A Walk in Their Shoes: Using the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator to Teach Geriatric Sensitivity | Tuesday, February 16 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Central Standard Time | Watch it on-demand here
- [FREE INFOGRAPHIC] Download a free infographic about teaching geriatric sensitivity here
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