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  • Ron Davidson

Care trainers launch a fundraising campaign for new dementia simulation suits that enable caregivers

AARON WISE/JOSH KERR, Meaningful Care Foundation

A Canadian care group has launched a fundraising campaign to acquire five pioneering age simulation suits, to help enable caregivers to experience the impairments of older people with dementia, giving them a greater understanding of those they care for.

Meaningful Care Matters, a care and culture consultancy based in Ontario, has set up a fundraising page for $8,556, to enable the group to purchase five state-of-the-art GERonTologic (GERT) suits from Germany which can be used to train its partners across Canada, the UK, and Ireland.

The innovative, full-body age simulation suits offer the latest technology in experiencing age-related impairments, such as opacity of the eye lens, narrowing of the visual field, high-frequency hearing loss, head mobility restrictions, joint stiffness, loss of strength, reduced grip ability, and reduced coordination skills.

Operated by either the handler, via a computer or the suit wearer, using a handheld device, the suits will give people a better understanding of older people’s behaviour by allowing them to experience the common sensomotoric skills in old age. Accessories can also be added to simulate tremors, tinnitus, kyphosis, hemiparesis, and knee and back pain.

Meaningful Care Matters, who specialize in helping long-term care providers to access a variety of services, facilitating the effective and sustainable implementation of person-centred care models, hope to use the suits as part of its training courses. They will give those who work directly with older people in health, social/aged, and disability care settings the chance to put themselves in their shoes.

Peter Bewert, Managing Director of Meaningful Care Matters, said: “We’re raising funds to purchase newly developed sensory tools and equipment, to not only facilitate the sensations of living with a dementia but turn these feelings and emotions into tangible approaches through our training, to improve people’s overall lived experience. Ultimately, we want to help change the future of long-term care education and delivery, by creating modern, experiential resources for both professionals and family carers alike.”

A study at the Julius-Maximilian University of Würzburg tested the suits on medical students and found 83 percent of participants empathized more with life in old age, while 90 percent found it beneficial to put themselves in the situation of an older person. In addition, 95 percent of the participants evidenced greater comprehensibility of the physical condition of elderly people.

Peter continued: “Covid-19 has been devastating for us all, particularly in long-term care where we‘ve experienced isolation and a lack of social connection. The lack of physical connections, touch, sensory stimulation, and emotional contact with loved ones is challenging at best, soul-destroying at worst. When combined with dementia or cognitive impairments, a significant adverse impact on the health and emotional wellness of people in care has been clearly seen, felt, and heard.

“There have been highs and lows, and people have had to endure some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. One thing we all agree on is the need for change. The time for change through education is now, and we can be the change we wish to see.”

These are exciting times for Meaningful Care Matters. The group is preparing to launch a charity later this year, to help create awareness, facilitate change, and support cultures of care grounded in feelings and emotions. More details will be announced in due course.

To view Meaningful Care Matters’ GoFundMe page, visit https://www.gofundme.com/s?q=meaningful%20care and click on the ‘Meaningful Care Matters’ icon.

For more information on Meaningful Care Matters, visit https://meaningfulcarematters.com/.


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