Fostering Geriatric Sensitivity through Age Simulation

By Kati Stacy

Miranda Kessler, RN-BSN, is the Health Occupations Instructor at Nicholas County Career and Technical Center in West Virginia where she teaches 11th and 12th grade students. The program includes health science courses with the goal of the students obtaining their West Virginia State Nursing Assistant Certification at the end of the two-year program.

“We are in a very poor county with approximately 1000 students in grades 10-12,” said Kessler. “We have seven feeder schools from three counties. Our area is very poor and jobs are incredibly limited. Some students will leave to go to college, but statistics show that the majority of our students won’t leave. It is so important that we reach these students and teach them a skill that can be used to take care of themselves and their families.”

When looking for a product to begin teaching geriatric sensitivity, Kessler chose the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator by Realityworks because she felt the included components were a great value for the money. Designed for secondary and post-secondary education programs, the Geriatric Simulator allows users to experience a variety of age-related physical challenges.

“When I told my principal about the simulator after seeing literature on it at a conference and he saw how excited I was to use and implement it into my program, he bought in immediately and ordered it for me with no hesitation,” she said. “When the simulator came, he was so excited about it, he was actually the first person to try it! He was amazed by how it changed his normal routine activities and made everything feel much
more physically demanding.”

Kessler thought her students could really get good use out of the Geriatric Simulator and learn from the experience of wearing it.

“I wanted to be able to teach my students to be more understanding and empathetic with the aging process once we made it into our clinical rotation at the local nursing home,” reflected Kessler. “I wanted them to understand why the residents moved so slowly and I wanted them to learn to be patient and kind while working with them.”

Students in Kessler’s class are introduced to the Geriatric Simulator during their unit on growth and development and the aging process. During note taking time, they dress in the suit, which includes a weight vest (adjustable, one-size-fits-most), ankle weights, wrist weights. elbow restraints, knee restraints, gloves and a cervical collar. They also wear the glasses to impair their vision while note taking to see how it inhibits them.

“Initially, the reaction is, “This can’t be that bad,” or they laugh and giggle while gettingdressed in the simulator,” said Kessler. “After wearing the suit for the recommended 20-30 minutes though, their feelings generally start to change.”

Kessler said she sees the students becoming tired and their actions becoming slower and more purposeful throughout that time.

“Many of the students say that they didn’t realize it would be so fatiguing,” she said. “I’ve never had a student complain after wearing the simulator though; I’ve always only had positive comments.”

“After wearing the suit,” Kessler continued, “I try to have a one-on-one conversation with each student and discuss the experience. How did you feel before and after? How did your body respond? How did your breathing change? What did you find most challenging? What did you do in an attempt to compensate for your deficits?”

Kessler currently has one Geriatric Simulator that her classes have been using since September, but she said if her enrollment continues to grow she may look into purchasing another if funding becomes available. She is also looking into adding Realityworks’ new Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit to her program through a grant she is writing. The kit features wearable components which provide users with age-related sensory changes to help with understanding common aging changes including: hearing impairment, geriatric arthritis and geriatric tremor.

“It is so important to get these kids to understand the pains and aches that our elderly generation feel every day, so that they can provide better care for our aging population,” reflected Kessler. “Even more than the physical aspect of aging, the mental and emotional status must be considered. These students can learn so much from the generation that we are now caring for – they can gain valuable life experience if they just slow down and listen and most importantly, respect the geriatric population.”

It’s Time to Focus on Time Management

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

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All day, every day, we take steps to manage our time. From coordinating calendars and communicating with loved ones to prioritizing tasks at work and home, we are challenged on a daily basis to balance the time we are given each day. Time management is so important, in fact, that February is National Time Management Month!

Time management is an important skill that helps keep personal and professional priorities under control. It also helps reduce stress. You’ve heard the saying “time is money.” As all employers know, wasted time is indeed a waste of money – and a drain on resources for employers.

Today’s students need to be aware of their own time management skills and how they can strengthen areas that may need improvement, no matter what career path they enter. Resources like our RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program can help students learn the importance of time as a finite resource, and how to manage it well.

You can learn more about how our soft skills program addresses time management by downloading this free lesson, which challenges students to prioritize tasks and overcome barriers to time management.

How are you helping your students develop good time management skills? Share your feedback in the comments!

School Funding Announcement: $500 AAE Member Grant Now Available

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

We know funding dollars are precious. That’s why we are constantly searching for school funding opportunities for educators. Recently, our school funding experts uncovered a grant from the Association of American Educators (AAE) for up to $500. The grant application is due March 1 and can be applied for by any AAE member.

This grant may be a great funding opportunity for purchasing the new RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program by Realityworks. This engaging, easy-to-implement program uses hands-on activities and real-world applications to teach students 20 soft skills, from communication and interpersonal skills to time management and responsibility – and best of all, the program is just $499.

The RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program

The RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program

It includes:

  • 19-lesson teacher guide
  • Set of 20 student workbooks
  • 19 Career-Ready Workplace Scenario Cards
  • 33 presentation slides

Learn more about this turnkey program here.  Find the grant application here.

When completing the grant application you’ll be asked to answer four key questions. To expedite your application process, we have provided the answers regarding our Employability Skills Program for you below:

  1. List of the materials that you are asking for: 19-lesson teacher guide, set of 20 student workbooks, 19 Career-Ready Workplace Scenario Cards, 33 presentation slides.
  1. What will these materials be used for and why are they needed? Helping students become college and career-ready is a primary goal our programs. One way to ensure career readiness is to give students the opportunity to actively practice a variety of soft skills. There is a soft skills gap currently in the United States which exceeds the technical skills gap we hear so much about.
  1. What will be the benefit for the students in your class and/or school from receiving these materials? This program gives students the opportunity for practical application of 20 different soft skills needed to get and keep a job. Each lesson includes two to four activities with students actively using the soft skill highlighted in that lesson in a variety of workplace scenarios and challenges.
  1. Include a lesson plan illustrating how these materials will be used. Click here for a sample lesson.

Not the grant for you, but want to find more school funding opportunities? We offer a robust Funding Center on our website. It includes information on fundraising and donations, PTAs and booster clubs, grants and crowdfunding. We even offer a free, searchable grants database. Click here to start exploring.

Help Your Students Explore Infant-Related Careers with this Free Lesson

By Denise Bodart, RealCare Product Manager

We all know how important it is to prepare students for college and career; our increasingly competitive global economy demands it. One way to help ensure your students are college-and career-ready is to provide them with opportunities to explore career pathways relates to your program – and we can help. Our free Using the RealCare Program for Career Exploration curriculum contains five hands-on career exploration lessons, one of which uses RealCare® Baby as a springboard for discussion of infant-related careers.

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Our free “Exploration of Careers Related to Infants in Education and Human Services” lesson uses RealCare Baby as a springboard into the discussion of infant-related careers.

If you already use RealCare Baby in your program, you know how powerful it is for participants to experience living the life of a teen parent. While participants quickly come to realize that being a parent is a full-time job, you can also use the simulation experience as a springboard for discussion of careers that involve working with infants.

The Exploration of Careers Related to Infants in Education and Human Services lesson includes career cluster definitions; opportunities to identify, research and explore career opportunities; presentation options and more. We recommend concluding this lesson with a career panel discussion, which you can coordinate by inviting local childcare professionals, human services professionals, social workers, adoption coordinators or program associates to share their professional experiences and the impact they have on the life of an infant.

Download this free lesson or the entire curriculum by clicking here, then let us know how you plan to use it in the comments!

6 Reasons to Download our New Employability Skills Curriculum

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Soft skills are necessary for getting, keeping and performing well on a job – according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, 77% of employers believe that the less tangible soft skills associated with one’s personality were just as important as hard, or technical, skills. Across the country, schools are being mandated to make their students college- and career-ready, and part of that career-readiness is the teaching of employability skills such as time management, organization, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and leadership. After all, finding workers who have employability or job-readiness skills that help them fit into and thrive in the work environment is a real challenge for current employers.

That’s why we are excited to offer a FREE employability skills curriculum to help teach these important skills, which you can download at no cost by clicking here. Our six-lesson RealCareer Employability Skills Program can be used as a stand-alone unit on soft skills, or as a supplement to an existing career exploration program.

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Realityworks’ six-lesson RealCareer Employability Skills Program can be used as a stand-alone unit on soft skills, or as a supplement to an existing career exploration program.

Aren’t convinced yet? Here are 6 reasons you should download this new curriculum for your program:

Reason #6: This curriculum will help your students understand time management at work. Lesson 6, “Time Management at Work,” covers the benefits of what improved time management, practical information on identifying and overcoming barriers to time management, and more!

Reason #5: This curriculum will help your students use technology in the workplace. Lesson 5, “Using Technology in the Workplace,” explores the impact of technology in the work place and gives hands-on work with technical skills by creating PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, using the Internet and more.

Reason #4: This curriculum will help your students learn to use critical thinking skills. Lesson 4, “Problem Solving and Critical Thinking,” discusses the steps to solving a problem effectively through hands-on practice with critical thinking skills used in the workplace.

Reason #3: This curriculum will teach your students how to utilize teamwork in the workplace. Lesson 3, “Effective Teamwork in the Workplace,” presents a series of teamwork tasks versus individual solutions and shows how effective teamwork skills can benefit the workplace.

Reason #2: This curriculum will teach your students effective communication skills. Lesson 2, “Effective Communication Skills,” provides opportunities to practice verbal and non-verbal communication skills, as well as examine how we communicate with family and friends, employers and colleagues.

Reason #1: This curriculum will help your students prepare for job interviews. Lesson 1, “Preparing for a Job Interview,” teaches the stages of a job interview and specific tips for preparing for a job interview including standard questions to and writing a proper thank-you letter.

The importance of soft skills in the workplace cannot be underestimated. After all, your student’s technical skills might get them in the door of a future employer, but their soft skills will help them maintain that job and turn it into a career. Click here to access our full RealCareer Employability Skills Program or individual lessons. 

How do you plan to use this curriculum? Let us know in the comments!