Health secretary experiences the challenges of getting older

Welsh Government health secretary Vaughan Gething AM visits USW's clinical simulation suite. Neil Gibson, August 2017.

Vaughan Gething trying out USW's ageing simulation suit

The Welsh Government’s health secretary has experienced for himself the physical and mental effects of old age during a visit with healthcare specialists at the University of South Wales (USW).

Vaughan Gething AM, who is Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, was given a guided tour of USW’s Clinical Simulation Suite by Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Lydon; Dr Martin Steggall, Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education; Dr Nicky Genders, Head of USW’s School of Care Sciences, and the school’s Deputy Head, Dr Sian Jones.

Dr Sian Jones and Meirion Williams, senior lecturer in advanced practice, helping the health secretary. Neil Gibson, August 2017During his visit, Mr Gething saw the facilities on offer in the simulation facility, which is used to give student nurses and midwives - and those studying other care sciences - real-life experience of working in a hospital setting. 

He also tried out USW’s specialist ageing simulation suit, which gives the wearer a first-hand experience of the potential effects of getting older. It is used by USW students to develop their knowledge and skills when working with, and caring for, older people. 

The suit includes special overshoes, which are used to simulate an unsteady walk, while wraps restrict the mobility of knees. A tremor device is used to mimic muscular shaking, and headphones match the effects of tinnitus – also known as "ringing in the ears".

“It’s been really interesting for me to see, practically, how we educate healthcare professionals who work in their local communities with patients who are often both elderly and vulnerable,” Mr Gething said.

“For me, it is good to understand for myself the direct experience of patients and their carers, and the thought that is given to how graduate education for healthcare professionals will make a real difference to how that care is ultimately provided.”

Prof Lydon added: “Mr Gething was very impressed with the facilities we have here, and how we work with the Welsh Government to ensure that USW students have all the skills needed to be at the cutting edge of healthcare.”  


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