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Simulation Montana provides rural communities with healthcare training

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Posted at 9:21 AM, Mar 22, 2024

LEWISTOWN — On Thursday, Simulation Montana (or Sim-MT for short) travelled to Lewistown to deliver a geriatric medical training for RN’s and CNA’s at Valle Vista Assisted Living. The group, which normally utilize a fleet of laboratory trucks, made the special pitstop to role-play, with an actress posing as one of the facilities residents.

“The idea was is to bring high quality health education to rural Montana, regardless of where you work or where you are,” says DJ Olson, Regional Manager for SIM-MT.



Valle Vista staff ran through demo scenarios, including, stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury on Denise, a former nurse, now working with SIM-MT, as their educator/actress.

“Using an actual person, we were able to look at her face and her eyes and the way she moved, and it was a natural person versus a mannequin,” says CNA at Valle Vista, Tonya Cripps.

Geriatric healthcare is an area which is becoming an increased need. In Montana, the state's fastest growing demographic are individuals aged 65 and over and more than 60% believe the availability of long-term care options are inadequate. These numbers are from a survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Recent studies from top universities are suggesting healthcare providers in senior care follow the four M’s. They are mind, mobility, medications, and what matters most. They can help recognize cognitive conditions like dementia and delirium, while being mindful of limited mobile function and fall injury prevention. Being mindful of medications can optimize the patient’s health, but the same medications may also cause problems. Finally, each patient’s care preferences are specific to their wants and needs. Emphasis is placed on treating the individual with compassion.

By 2030, Montana is projected to be among ten states with more people over the age of 65 than people under the age of 18. This means it’s more and more crucial that education in senior care is shared with young registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, particularly in rural communities.

“So making sure that the up and coming people don't get burned out, and they have the tools they need to keep going and to give quality care to those communities because there are fewer and fewer of them,” says Olson. “There aren't a whole lot of caregivers and you want to make sure the ones that you have are doing a good job and are doing it the right way.”