Experts Present Evidence-Based Solutions for Quality Geriatric Care

More than 300 nurses and other health professionals from 92 hospitals attended the twelfth annual conference of NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders), held February 23 to 26 in Orlando, Florida. The theme of the conference was “Patient Safety: Evidence-Based Solutions for Quality Geriatric Care.” NICHE is based at The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU College of Nursing.

The unique NICHE program has been adopted by more than 285 hospitals in the United States and Canada, which seek to improve care for older adults through a transformation of nurses’ role. Seventeen new hospitals joined NICHE at this year’s conference. Attendees included nurse administrators, nurse executives, nurse educators, geriatric advanced practice nurses, geriatricians, registered nurses, and geriatric team members including pharmacists, rehabilitation therapists, and social workers.

“Patient safety is a critical issue for all health care organizations, particularly for those caring for older adults, and we’re seeing heightened expectations of quality by both consumers and regulators,” said Elizabeth A. Capezuti, PhD, RN, APRNBC, FAAN, the Dr. John W. Rowe Professor in Successful Aging at NYU College of Nursing and co-director of The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing. “Several high-level reports have outlined steps to counter unintended negative outcomes in the U.S. health system. It’s our job to make sure that information reaches everyone from hospital leaders to the bedside nurse.”

Twenty-seven sessions were presented by a wide variety of experts in the field as well as faculty from experienced NICHE sites. In her keynote address, Lorraine Mion, PhD, RN, FAAN, Independence Foundation Professor at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, highlighted the challenges and opportunities for nursing and health care organizations that are arising in the new era of “pay-for-performance.” This address and others at the conference highlighted evidenced-based practice, innovation, and leadership in improving patient safety and quality geriatric care.

Conference attendees heard from a series of national experts on patient safety including keynote speakers Audrey Nelson, PhD, RN, FAAN; Patricia Quigley, PhD, ARNP, CRRN, FAAN, and Gail Powell Cope, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Patient Safety. They discussed the VA’s efforts since 1999 to improve patient safety efforts and nurture a culture of safety.

Patient safety goals, such as reductions in falls, hospital-acquired infections, and pressure ulcers, are key components of NICHE. Hospitals that participate in NICHE receive initial and ongoing resources to develop and strengthen the capacity to improve care for older adults. NICHE is the only national nursing program designed to improve care of hospitalized older adults.

“In today’s health care environment, older adult safety is crucial, given the aging of the population and pressing economic challenges,” said Dr. Capezuti.

The first two days of the conference served to introduce new hospitals to the essential NICHE building blocks, core models, and resources. Breakout sessions fostered collaboration to develop action plans with mentoring from mature NICHE sites. During the second two days of the conference, experienced NICHE sites complemented keynote speakers in sharing examples of evidence-based, highly innovative clinical practice strategies. The third day featured cutting-edge, research-based best nursing practices linking national research to direct care. The fourth day addressed innovative and practical approaches to strengthen implementation of NICHE for experienced sites. These approaches include “bundled” methods to prevent complications, such as falls, acute confusion, and infection in older adults, and programs specialized to meet needs of older patients in the emergency room and mental health units.

NICHE is a program of The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU College of Nursing. For more information visit

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