Geriatric Simulations Toolkit

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In 2017, older adults accounted for more than one-third of hospital stays and 15 percent of emergency room visits. These numbers will rise as the 65-plus population grows, intensifying the need for more nurses with experience in geriatric care. Yet undergraduate nursing students receive little clinical experience focused on caring for older adults across settings. Clinical experiences are not only important for growing skills, but also impact student attitudes and career intentions post-graduation. Clinical simulations provide a safe environment for students to practice geriatric nursing skills and engage in high-level problem solving. Simulations have been shown to be effective in increasing nursing student knowledge and confidence in care of older adults.

Who should use this toolkit?

This toolkit is intended for nurse educators, and students in a baccalaureate or associate degree nursing program. With some adaptations, this toolkit would also be beneficial to healthcare organizations such as hospitals and long term care, to orient nursing staff to older adults’ special care needs. Two of the four simulations in this toolkit are interprofessional, bringing nursing, occupational therapy and social work students together to practice providing quality team care.

What does the toolkit contain?

In this toolkit you will find concrete guidance and materials to use in four simulations related to caring for older adults. The four simulations are:

  1. Introduction to aging and home health nursing assessment
  2. Hospital care of older adults with a fall and acute respiratory symptoms
  3. Interprofessional home health assessments
  4. Interprofessional skilled inpatient rehabilitation of older adults

Also included are reflections from students and instructors that have experienced the simulations, recommended resources, and tool recommendations for those wishing to evaluate implementation of the simulations and their impact on learners.

How should these tools be used?

The four simulations within the toolkit were developed with the following goals:

  • Increase nursing student competence and confidence in adapting care for older adults
  • Increase nursing student appreciation for and confidence in collaborating with other disciplines
  • Increase nursing student exposure to healthcare settings other than acute care
  • Create a positive image of careers in aging, particularly in long term and community based care settings

Development of this toolkit

The Geriatric Simulations Toolkit was developed by researchers and clinicians (Principal Investigator: Barbara King, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing Center for Aging Research and Education.

This project was supported by Helen Daniels Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy. Additional support was provided by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Health Innovation Program (HIP), the Wisconsin Partnership Program, and the Community-Academic Partnerships core of the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR), grant 9 U54 TR000021 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (previously grant 1 UL1 RR025011 from the National Center for Research Resources). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other funders.

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  1. Palmer MH, Kowlowitz V, Campbell J, Carr C, Dillon R, Durham CF, Gainer LA, Jenkins J, Page JB, Rasin J. Using clinical simulations in geriatric nursing continuing education. Nurs Outlook. 2008 Jul-Aug;56(4):159-66.
  2. Plonczynski DJ, Ehrlich-Jones L, Robertson JF, Rossetti J, Munroe DJ, Koren ME, Berent G, Hertz J. Ensuring a knowledgeable and committed gerontological nursing workforce. Nurse Educ Today. 2007 Feb;27(2):113-21.
  3. Smith SJ, Barry DG. The use of high-fidelity simulation to teach home care nursing. West J Nurs Res. 2013 Mar;35(3):297-312.

Toolkit Citation

Hirvela K, King B, Woywod P. Geriatric Simulations Toolkit. University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Nursing Center for Aging Research and Education and UW Health Innovation Program. Madison, WI; 2017. Available at


About the Author

Barbara King, PHD, RN, APRN-BC, FAAN is an Associate Professor with the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Nursing and the Executive Director of the Center for Aging Research and Education. She works with CARE to develop, implement, and disseminate programs supporting older adult health. Barbara’s primary research examines the functional decline and loss of independent ambulation in older adults during hospitalization. Her second line of research focuses on older patients’ transitional care from hospital to nursing home.