Older adults often have multiple ailments brought on by aging. Dementia, delirium, functional decline and frailty put the elderly at risk for a variety of conditions that can be challenging for caregivers. It takes a combination of compassion and expertise to understand and address their physical, psychological and social needs.
Better Patient Outcomes
In 2011, the nursing staff at Mountain View Hospital (El Camino Hospital) instituted the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) Program. NICHE is a national nurse-driven membership organization that encourages hospitals to adopt its tested principles, protocols and models of care. NICHE’s goals fit perfectly into El Camino Health’s culture of patient-centered care. Our leadership in sensitive and responsive geriatric care and our ongoing, high-level dedication to excellence earned the hospital NICHE “Exemplar” designation.
Our program is led by a nurse practitioner, who helps guide clinicians — especially the nursing staff — so they can provide care that focuses on the needs and preferences of geriatric patients. NICHE principles are embedded at the hospital level, which means older adults receive high-quality, interdisciplinary care that leads to better outcomes — no matter where they’re receiving care in the hospital.
NICHE guidelines haven’t only improved care for our patients, these procedures have led to a more rewarding practice environment for our nurses.
Including Families in Care
At El Camino Health, care for older adults extends beyond health maintenance — we look for opportunities to improve health. We believe communication with patients and their family members is crucial. Good communication can make vulnerable patients feel understood, comfortable, calm and able to work with their caregivers to improve their health. Because NICHE encourages us to approach patient care in the context of the patient, family and community, everyone feels a greater sense of satisfaction.
Older adults are hospitalized at three times the rate as the general population and that number is expected to grow. A significant percentage of our elderly patients won’t be able to return to living independent lives. While NICHE is an inpatient program, our team can help ease any transition.
We have a comprehensive array of outpatient services that can assist older adults, including:
- Care coordination – Assistance to help people plan for their health needs after they leave the hospital.
- Eldercare services – Services and resources for older adults and their family caregivers.
- Older Adult Transitions Services (OATS) Program – Outpatient health program for older adults experiencing depression and anxiety.
- Palliative care – Specialized care that addresses the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness.
In addition, care team members can assist you in finding community resources for yourself or an aging family member.