Dupont Hospital achieves NICHE “Senior Friendly” status for excellent care of older adults
Fort Wayne, Ind. (Monday, Oct. 31, 2016) – Dupont Hospital today announced it has achieved "Senior Friendly" status for its NICHE program. NICHE, which stands for Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders, is a national designation that validates a hospital's commitment to excellence in the care of patients age 65 and older. Dupont earned the NICHE designation in 2014.
The Senior Friendly status — the second highest of four possible NICHE program levels — was assigned following a rigorous self-evaluation of the current state and future goals of the program at Dupont. Senior Friendly NICHE hospitals have implemented the Geriatric Resource Nurse model; implemented aging-sensitive policies; and included the input of patients, families, and community-based providers in planning and implementation of NICHE initiatives.
“The NICHE designation and the Senior Friendly status signals Dupont’s resolve to provide patient-centered care for older adults and its pursuit of the top ‘Exemplar’ status,” said Lutheran Hospital CNO Angie Logan, RN, who was CNO at Dupont during its evaluation earlier this year. “Through participation in the program, the hospital has been able to offer evidence-based, interdisciplinary approaches that promote better outcomes, positive experiences and improved care for older adults. This leads to greater satisfaction rates for patients, families and staff.”
The program evaluation is used by hospitals to determine the level of their NICHE efforts. The evaluation benchmarks program evolves year-to-year, targets future care initiatives and provides data to use in gaining and sustaining support from institution stakeholders.
“Reaching Senior Friendly status demonstrates Dupont’s commitment to caring for older adults in ways that really improve their experience while here,” said Teresa DeLellis, PharmD, BCPS, the NICHE site coordinator for Dupont Hospital. “Every patient population we care for is unique, and the NICHE program enables us to be more mindful that our senior guests have different needs.”
Newer aspects of NICHE at Dupont include more extensive medication education with patients at discharge by a pharmacist as well as a prioritized personal care plan. Also, follow-up calls to patients post-discharge occur on a regular basis.
Besides changes to time of discharge practices and beyond, the NICHE committee at Dupont has expanded by adding non-hospital members like a professor from the University of Saint Francis who provides insight about the geriatric population, and various representatives of local long-term healthcare facilities like hospice who come on-site for palliative care. In addition, chaplains and social workers from Dupont have also joined the committee to create a more comprehensive team.
“The goal of Dupont’s transitions in care team is to work together with our ‘community partners in care’ so patients receive the right care at the ideal time at the most appropriate location,” said Logan. “We’re doing our jobs well when patient needs are met or exceeded every step of the way.”
Members of Lutheran Health Network’s Senior Circle continue to visit Dupont biannually to offer feedback about potential improvements from an older adult perspective. Logan describes this effort as a way to better understand how the facility is perceived by this patient population.
NICHE was initiated at Dupont as a pilot program in the emergency department; it continues to unfold in the medical surgical units and beyond to better accommodate the older patient population experiencing greater lengths of stay. Education continues throughout the hospital as it relates to being a Senior Friendly environment.
For more information about NICHE, visit www.nicheprogram.org/.