Christiana Care earns Exemplar designation for outstanding elder care

Christiana Care earns Exemplar designation for outstanding elder care

ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) units at Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital are key components of the internal support network that helped Christiana Care earn designation as a NICHE Exemplar Hospital, recognizing outstanding hospital care for people age 65 and older.

Christiana Care is one of only eight hospitals in the United States to achieve “Exemplar” status for the care it provides the elderly under the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program.

NICHE is the premier designation indicating a hospital’s commitment to excellence in the care of patients age 65 and older. The Exemplar status recognizes Christiana Care’s “ongoing, high-level dedication to geriatric care and pre-eminence in the implementation and quality of system-wide interventions and initiatives that demonstrate organizational commitment to the care of older adults,” according to NICHE.

The Exemplar status — the highest of four possible program levels — was assigned following a rigorous self-evaluation of the current state and future goals of the NICHE program at Christiana Care. The requirements include:

  • Implementation of the NICHE geriatric resource nurse model and evidence-based guidelines on all applicable units, including specialty units.
  • Implementation of systemic aging-sensitive policies.
  • Inclusion of the input of patient, families, and community-based providers in planning and implementation of NICHE initiatives; and assuming regional and national leadership roles.

“The NICHE designation and the Exemplar status signal our commitment to provide patient-centered care for older adults, serving them as expert, caring partners in their health,” said Virginia U. Collier, M.D., the Hugh R. Sharp Jr. chair of Medicine at Christiana Care.

“Through our participation in the NICHE program, we are able to offer evidence-based, interdisciplinary approaches that promote better outcomes, positive experiences and improved care for the older adults in our care,” adds Diane Talarek, RN, senior vice president of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Christiana Care. “This leads to greater satisfaction rates for our patients, their families and our staff.”

Following NICHE guidelines, Christiana Care established the We Improve Senior Health Program (WISH) in 2001. Under the leadership of program coordinator Denise Lyons, GCNS, and medical director Patricia Curtin, M.D., WISH is a collaborative effort among nurses, physicians, pharmacists, rehabilitative therapists, social workers, dietitians and other staff to improve the care that Christiana Care delivers to senior patients in all settings.

Since the program began, Christiana Care has trained more than 1,500 health care providers who have become members of the Senior Health Resource Team. They serve as unit-based resources to address the diverse problems of seniors who are in the hospital. Also, Christiana Care provides inpatient Acute Care for the Elderly units at Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital.

“Christiana Care’s evaluation demonstrated a tremendous ability to meet the needs of the older adult patient,” says Liz Capezuti, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, director of NICHE and the Dr. John W. Rowe Professor in Successful Aging at the New York University College of Nursing. “The hospital’s high intensity level in marshaling geriatric nursing resources and support to enhance care marks it as a leader in the field.”