Sentara Martha Jefferson has found its NICHE

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Aging adults are at a higher risk for injury and disease. The nursing staff at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital has adopted a program that is specifically geared toward helping the older adult population decrease complications and receive exceptional care.

Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders, or NICHE, is a nationwide initiative aimed at caring for adults 65 years and older.

Since April, the nursing staff has been implementing what they learned from the program with their senior patients, and they have seen an increase in the patient experience.

The NICHE program provides the nursing staff with 20 hours of training to become Geriatric Resource Nurses.

Additional knowledge on geriatric conditions, resources and protocols allows nurses to cater to each individual patient's needs and reach goals within the program, like decreasing falls.

"We're always working to decrease falls and falls with injury for all of our patient population here at Martha Jefferson,” Kelly Via, NICHE coordinator, said. “But we want to make sure that we are targeting specific needs that may apply to that population of patients that are age 65 and older."

The nurses on the Cornell 2 unit work with other departments in the hospital, who are also on the NICHE Steering Committee, to develop plans to reach those goals and effectively communicate with and care for patients and their families.

"Safely transferring patients, things about, like hearing aids, eyeglasses, to make sure that patients who use those things outside of the hospital are using them in the hospital before we transfer them, which is not something we always think about with the general population,” Via said.

The interdisciplinary approach to the NICHE program has allowed patients to receive the care they need no matter where they are in the hospital.

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