Nurse-driven program receives grant to improve care for older adults in nursing homes

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has awarded Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE), a nurse-driven program based at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, a grant of more than $644,000 to improve the quality of care for older adults living in nursing homes in Washington State. The project is funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program, a national effort to reduce adverse events, improve staffing quality, and enhance dementia care in nursing homes.

The three-year project, which begins January 1, 2020, will provide nurses and certified nursing assistants in 30 nursing homes across the state with specialized education and leadership development training to implement evidence-based care for older adults. The initiative has the potential to benefit more than 3,000 Washingtonians living in nursing homes.

Nursing homes play an important role in ensuring the health and safety of frail elders with complex needs. We are thrilled to collaborate with Washington Department of Social and Health Services to arm nurses with evidence-based practices allowing them to provide the best possible care for the state's aging population."

Jennifer Pettis, MS, RN, CNE, WCC, associate director of the NICHE long-term care program at NYU Meyers

"Washington Residential Care Services is pleased that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded Washington State Civil Money Penalty funds to the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing for the NICHE program. We are excited to have this partnership in our state with 30 of our nursing homes, teaching nurses and nursing assistants regarding evidence-based practices for older adults. We look forward to the continuous improvement in the quality of care and services for our nursing home residents," said Candace Goehring, MN, RN, director of Residential Care Services, Aging and Long Term Support Administration, Washington DSHS.

Melissa Lawton, Civil Money Penalty grant specialist for Washington DSHS said, "We are so pleased to work with NYU to bring the NICHE program to 30 skilled nursing facilities in Washington. This nurse-led project will truly make a difference in the lives of nursing facility residents in our state and is a wonderful addition to our current Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program."

The number of residents in nursing homes is projected to rise dramatically over the next decade. With Americans living longer and facing more complicated medical issues and disabilities as they age, combined with hospital stays shortening, the demand for nursing homes to provide more complex services is growing.

Yet, nurses working in long-term care settings often lack knowledge of evidence-based care necessary to best meet the needs of older adults. For example, caring for older adults requires specialized assessment skills to differentiate normal changes related to aging from signs of diseases like dementia.

NICHE is an education and consultation program dedicated to improving the quality of care for older adults and elevating nurse and staff competence in the specialty practice area of geriatric nursing. It has more than 600 member organizations, including hospitals and nursing homes.

Through this new grant, 30 Washington nursing homes-;which will be selected in early 2020-;will participate in the NICHE Long-Term Care program for a three-year period. Nurse leaders will begin with an eight-week online leadership training program, during which they will work with NICHE's expert mentors to develop a quality improvement project focusing on two clinical areas. NICHE's mentors and faculty will then support nursing home teams to implement those action plans.

Additionally, nursing staff at the nursing homes will complete specialized continuing education courses on the care of older adults. The training and projects focus on health issues that affect older adults, including preventing falls, assessing and managing pain, and identifying depression and dementia.

Research shows that NICHE organizations have improved patient outcomes, decreased costs, and reduced hospital readmissions, all of which have led to higher older adult and staff satisfaction. We look forward to working closely with our new NICHE members in Washington to enhance the quality of care in their nursing homes."

Mattia Gilmartin, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive director of the NICHE program at NYU Meyers

NICHE has partnered with Comagine Health, the Washington Quality Improvement Organization, to evaluate resident outcomes associated with the NICHE Long-Term Care program. NICHE researchers will analyze data gathered from front-line staff through their clinical practice improvement projects as well as publicly reported quality measures to evaluate the outcomes of this project.

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