Healthy Aging

Riverside Health Systems Four Hospitals Receive NICHE Designation

October 08, 2018
Riverside Health Systems Four Hospitals Receive NICHE Designation

Following months of preparation and planning, Riverside Health System's four hospitals earned designations as NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) centers, recognizing Riverside’s dedication to quality care for older adults.

Fewer than 20 hospitals across the state hold the same designation, and Riverside is one of the first in the nation to commit to implementing this transformational program across all its services.

Created in 1994 by New York University College of Nursing, NICHE is the leading nurse-driven program designed to help improve the care of older adults.  It provides nurses with education and best practice models for responding to the unique needs of older patients.

Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News and Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital received their designations in late 2012.  Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester and Riverside Tappahannock Hospital earned designations in January.  The Doctors' Hospital of Williamsburg will work to earn its designation as soon as it opens to patients later this year.

"Ten thousand people a day turn 65," said Riverside's Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Terris Kennedy, RN, PhD.  "The older adult population is only going to increase, and we are living longer.  We really believe that knowing these best practice, evidence-based protocols, truly gives nurses the ability to care for older adults, not just in acute care settings, but also when older adults are in transition."

Those older adults in transition are part of what Riverside calls its continuum of care, which includes the patient centered medical home and primary care, acute care services, transitional care services (such as acute rehabilitation, skilled nursing rehabilitation, skilled home health care and hospice) and then also assuring the patient's care is coordinated across the continuum.

Thus Riverside is innovatively implementing NICHE program across its continuum, Riverside leadership said, blending it with its established innovations in older adult care in the Lifelong Health Division.

Riverside's Lifelong Health Division recently opened the first fully de-institutionalized nursing home in Virginia, offers home health technologies to older adults who wish to age in place and runs Virginia's most comprehensive Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. 

According to NICHE, designated hospitals have higher patient and family satisfaction overall.

"With the aging of baby boomers, improving geriatric nursing competencies is more important than ever," according to NICHE. "The NICHE program is designed to upgrade the quality of care for hospitalized older adults by increasing awareness of geriatric issues, improving staff competence in geriatric care, and supporting the implementation of hospital geriatric protocols."

NICHE provides an "extensive array of resources and tools that guide, support, and educate healthcare professionals and facilities throughout the process of achieving NICHE designation."

The next step for each hospital is for the leadership to conduct geriatric assessment surveys of its nurses to determine the baseline knowledge of how to care for older adults.

Following the survey, each facility will begin the hands on learning and educational portion of the program with the implementation of the Geriatric Resource Nurse Curriculum.

"This program has nurses stepping up to the plate in caring for older adults," stated Susan McAndrews, Administrator at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.  "It shows that Riverside is committed to a high quality of care for older adults, not just in an acute care setting, but across the health system."