VIDEO: Dewsbury and District Hospital staff get age-simulation suit training

Nagging pains, stiff joints and struggling with life’s simplest tasks.

These are the senior moments which prove Father Time has started marking your card. But do we really understand the challenges the elderly face every day?

Reporter Mike Muncaster tries an aging suit at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Reporter Mike Muncaster tries an aging suit at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Staff at Dewsbury and District Hospital have been attempting to do just that by experiencing what it feels like to be old with an age-simulation suit.

The outfit places them in the shoes of a person in their 70s and aims to help staff empathise with the struggles elderly patients face.

The brainchild of deputy associate director of nursing Helen Green, she convinced Dewsbury hospital to buy the suit and claimed it has already had a big impact on patient care.

Mrs Green said: “Arthritis of the neck or tremors which causes the hands to shake, these are just some of problems older people face.

“What the suit actually does is make you empathise with them and understand what it feels like for someone of old age.

“At the end of the day, it is someone’s mum or someone’s dad who is feeling like this so it is important our staff can help them as much as they can to understand what they are going through.”

The £3,500 suit uses weighted pads to limit the movement of joints such as the wrists, neck, upper torso and knees to simulate the loss of mobility caused by ageing and arthritis.

Yellow goggles mimic the decline in vision and ear defenders cause high-frequency hearing loss.

Surgical style gloves also give staff an insight into how patients feel when trying to cope with Parkinson’s disease.

Around 96 staff, including porters, consultants, doctors and nurses, have undergone training in the last eight weeks.

And Mrs Green said staff found the simplest tasks like sitting down and picking up a cup of tea extremely difficult when wearing the suit.

She said: “We thought the staff might feel challenged by the idea of putting the suit on but in fact all the staff were queuing up to try it. We’ve had a fantastic response from everyone who wants to try and get a better understanding of ways to aid the elderly.

“It definitely helps them relate to their patients a lot more.”

Mrs Green approached the chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Stephen Eames with the idea of buying the suit.

She said: “I knew Bradford had one and heard they had good success with it. I was sitting next to Stephen Eames in a meeting and spoke to him about the idea of finding the funds to buy the suit. He was really supportive and the benefits are already being seen.”

Mrs Green said all staff in Dewsbury hospital will undergo training in the coming year.