Healthcare for the Ageing Generation
The world’s population is the oldest it has ever been. The number of people aged 60 or over has tripled since 1950 and is on course to reach 2.1 billion by 2050. An ageing population used to be a developed world phenomenon but better healthcare across the globe, and a decreasing birth-rate, means that it’s not just the countries of Europe or Asia which are experiencing this phenomenon of an ageing population. Caring for increased numbers of elderly people may have to lead to a radical rethink of how countries around the world organise their medical provision – we are going to need more care homes, more geriatric wards in hospitals, more doctors and nurses experienced in the specific illnesses and conditions which affect older people.
No two older people are the same but it’s certainly true that there are some conditions which primarily affect older people and which may become far more prevalent in the future. Some of the most common health issues which affect older people include stroke, cancers, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatrics has traditionally not been one of the more glamorous medical specialisations, but these attitudes may change as geriatrics becomes much more important. Doctors who choose to specialise in geriatric medicine have traditionally trained using the same methods as other specialists, using a combination of book learning, lectures, demonstrations and practice using real patients. But could there be another, more efficient way of training the large number of geriatricians which the world is going to need?
Our bodies go through many changes as we age, and even something as basic as taking a blood sample can be more challenging on an 80-year-old than on an 18-year-old. A high-quality medical service for elderly patients relies on skilled and experienced medical professionals but allowing trainee doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to experience the wide range of issues which they may be faced with in their clinical practice. 3B Scientific produces a wide range of different simulators, allowing students to experience everything which real life may throw at them, in a zero-risk setting.
There are a number of benefits to simulator training in general, not just for geriatric patients. Simulators such as the 3B Scientific epidural and spinal injection simulator allow students to practice their technique as many times as they need to build their confidence and refine their technique. This is obviously not the case when administering an epidural to a live patient. Simulators can expose students to scenarios and types of body which they might not come across often in a hospital setting, and patients do not need to be approached to consent to helping in training. Simulators are also highly portable, and can be easily moved to different rooms or buildings as needed.
3B Scientific has a wide range of simulators which are designed to replicate the anatomy and tissue structure of an older body. Students can practice inserting an IV line into the Geriatric IV Arm, with veins which have been specially designed to disappear as the student attempts to catheterise and skin which is thinner than normal. Also of huge value to students is the geriatric insert kit for the epidural and spinal injection simulator, made to provide students with the experience of a wide range of spinal deformities associated with ageing and of the soft tissue structure of an older patient.
Compassion and Understanding
It can be difficult for young and fit people to imagine what life will be like when they’re 80, so why not give them the experience of being old? 3B Scientific produces an Aged Simulation suit which comprises goggles, ear plugs, weights and a special suit to force the wearer into a stooped walking position. Spending a few minutes wearing this suit gives a whole new perspective to being old, and the challenges associated with being an older person with sight and hearing problems.
Which teaching method and/or tool do you find works best with your students?