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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 19:29 GMT
Simulating age with popcorn
Elderly people
Nurses are encouraged to learn about old people's problems
Nurses have been given an insight into living as an elderly person.

With popcorn in their shoes to simulate bunions and mobility problems the hospital staff at Delancey Hospital in Cheltenham have been learning first hand the difficulties of old age.

The "instant ageing" 20-minute training sessions were organised after an audit showed that 52% of all patients at the hospital were over 70 years old and were suffering sight, hearing or mobility problems.

The nurses were also given "simulator spectacles" to reproduce the effects of cataracts, tunnel vision and other impairments.

It really does make you think about how difficult life is for the elderly. It really brings it home to you

Anne Edward, ward manager at Delancey Hospital, Cheltenham

Some were asked to wear headphones to simulate hearing impairments.

Simulating age

And staff were given an insight into the effects of arthritis after being given special rubber gloves to restrict hand movements.

They were then asked to pour drinks or hold cups to show the effect a loss of mobility can have on everyday life for older people.

Anne Edward, ward manager at Delancey said the course had proved invaluable for staff.

She said: "It really does make you think about how difficult life is for the elderly. It really brings it home to you."

Pat Barlow of Gloucester County Association for the Blind said training like this was vital to boost awareness of the disabilities some patients suffer.

He said: "This training gives staff an insight which would otherwise be impossible to achieve.

"No matter how hard we try to imagine what it must be like to have a visual impairment, we can never really know.

"Using the simulator spectacles is about as close as most of us will ever get."

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