The PAUL Suit©: an experience of ageing

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SUMMARYBackground:An ageing population worldwide makes it increasingly important that health students understand issues that elderly people face and can provide empathic care to them.Context:This teaching department in an isolated rural setting developed an interprofessional learning session to assist health students to understand issues of functional loss and social isolation that can affect elderly people.Innovation:The Premature Ageing Unisex Leisure (PAUL) Suit© was developed as part of a 1-day learning session for undergraduate health students – including students of medicine, nursing and allied health – attending clinical placement in far-west New South Wales. The suit was developed locally and can be adjusted to simulate a wide range of functional losses in the wearer. Students undertake a range of daily tasks in the community while wearing the suit in the company of a student ‘carer’. Over the past 4 years, approximately 140 students have participated in the simulation. Post-simulation evaluations report that students gain a greater understanding of some functional issues associated with ageing, and of the social isolation that can be associated with these. The experiential nature of the activity leads to some powerful insights.This activity is an innovative, experiential tool to deepen students understanding of issues related to ageingImplications:This activity is an innovative, experiential tool to deepen students understanding of issues relating to ageing. The interprofessional nature of the activity is an important factor in the success of the day, and produces a wide range of shared insights. The activity also enhances the partnerships between the university, the health service and the local community. Our experience supports the value of simulation in providing a deep learning opportunity in the area of ageing and disability.

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