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Walk a mile in my shoes

Saturday, 8th October, 2011

SUITED UP: Kerry Blackett and Margaret O’Donnell. SUITED UP: Kerry Blackett and Margaret O’Donnell.

Nursing students this week discovered what it felt like to encounter the limitations of old age.

Students from the University of Wollongong slipped into premature aged unisex leisure suits in an attempt to feel what being elderly was really about.

Pairs went to town - one in the suit and the other as their carer - to pay bills, shop and make appointments to replicate the day to day struggles of the elderly.

Health Education Officer at the BH Department of Rural Health, Paul Bennett, said they also wore cotton gloves, ear plugs and vision impairing glasses.

“Elderly people, they grow into disability,” Mr Bennett explained.

Third-year nursing students Kerry Blackett and Margaret O’Donnell said the exercise was a great learning experience.

“We also work in the nursing home industry and you’re able to get a sense of what it is to get old,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“It gives us a better understanding because we just assume a lot, unfortunately,” said Ms Blackett. “It gives us the perspective of the patient’s side and the carer and the difficulties they have to deal with every day.”

Ms O’Donnell admitted she was slightly embarrassed to be walking out in public in the suit.

“I’m glad I come from Wollongong and no one knows us,” she laughed.

The experience is part of a program run by the Department of Rural Health to provide students with an understanding of country health care.

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