Nursing Students Test Out Geriatric Suit, Paid For By Sewell Grant

Move on When Ready students at WGTC’s Murphy Campus work with instructor Christy Cole to test out the geri suit, paid for by a grant from the Bremen-based Warren and Ava Sewell Foundation.

The West Georgia Technical College School of Nursing has acquired a new piece of equipment that aims to help students have empathy for elderly patients.
The geriatric simulation suit, known by students and instructors as the “geri suit,” has weights for the wrist, ankle and torso area to tire the wearer and restrict movement, along with restraints for the hands, elbows, knees and neck. Goggles and earplugs limit eyesight and hearing, and shoe covers change the gait when walking.
“All of these elements come together to give the wearer of the suit a realistic experience of being an elderly person and some of the challenges they face every day,” said Renee Rawlins, health sciences simulation lab specialist at WGTC’s Murphy Campus. “Everyone has been very enthusiastic about the new addition to our labs.”

The suit was acquired with funds gained by the program through a Warren P. and Ava F. Sewell Foundation grant for education. Robin Sewell Worley, chairman, said the foundation was attracted to supporting WGTC’s need because of the foundation’s nearly 70-year history.

“My grandfather, Warren, helped build nursing homes, so he was particularly attuned to the needs of the elderly,” Worley said. “Knowing that money from his foundation would be going toward such a worthy cause would please him, I’m sure.”
Since 1948, the Bremen-based foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants, particularly to churches and educational organizations. Most grants are geared toward the local community of Haralson and Carroll counties, but Worley said the foundation has awarded grants to other organizations outside those two counties, as well.

“We’ve seen what West Georgia Tech has done, and the effect the college has had on our community is something we were eager to support,” Worley said. “We’re proud to be able to carry on the foundation’s mission to help in areas like this.”
The Sewell Foundation also awarded a grant to WGTC’s marketing management program.
Last week, Move on When Ready students taking certified nursing assistant (CNA) classes at the Murphy Campus had their first experience with the geri suit.
“One student put on the suit, while others practiced their skills with moving patients,” Rawlins said.

Rawlins said the geri suit will be a “real benefit” to the students at WGTC.
“Learning how to care for elderly patients is serious business, but the students still had fun and enjoyed learning about the challenges elderly people face,” Rawlins said. “Hopefully, this piece of equipment will help them provide better care for elderly patients in the future.”