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London South Bank University acquires cutting-edge ‘age simulation suit’

LSBU's 'age simulation suit' helps health and social care students empathise with the challenges of restricted movement and inhibited sensory perception
03 April 2014

London South Bank University's Faculty of Health and Social Care has acquired an 'age simulation suit' in order to assist in the training of health and social care students.

The suit, which was designed in Germany by Wolfgang Moll, uses various elements to restrict movement and inhibit sensory perception – including a range of glasses designed to emulate various eye conditions, and ear defenders and ear plugs which allow the wearer to experience degrees of hearing loss.

The main body of the suit uses strategically-placed weights, oversize shoe covers and adjustable ties that create a considerable degree of restriction in terms of bodily movement and hence emulating common mobility issues. The suit also includes a pair of gloves through which an electrical pulse is transmitted, triggering adjustable levels of involuntary tremors in the user's hands.

LSBU is London's largest provider of vocational training in nursing and is currently the only institution in the city to incorporate the suit into its training programmes. It is hoped that through the emulation of a variety of physical limitations – which can affect people of all ages but is particularly prevalent in the older generation – a more empathetic and person-centred approach can be instilled in the students from the very start of their courses.

Sheelagh Mealing, Director of Vocational Learning in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, said: "It's essential for our students to develop a strong philosophy of care as a keystone to their training.

"Of course, it's important for them to build their theoretical knowledge but through wearing this simulation suit for themselves and by discussing just how they felt with other students they are pushed into a situation where empathy and understanding are suddenly very much prioritised.

"It helps to make the theoretical side of things very real and enables students to consider ways of working with patients that really meets their needs. I hope that ultimately it will make for better, more empathetic and compassionate health and social care professionals working across London."

Pictured: The Guardian's Josh Halliday tries out LSBU's age simulation suit.