The picture of a geriatric-friendly unit

PVH’s medical unit strives to be known for its exceptional care and friendly environment for older adults
February 28th, 2017
Local picture of cows in a mountain field.
The medical unit at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital changed out their artwork to conform to geriatric-friendly standards. This picture of the cows, taken by an area resident, has proven to be a patient favorite.

Vivid flowers. Local mountain scenes. Cows. … Cows?

“Yes, the picture of the cows seems to appeal to a lot of our patients,” said Rory Jantz, a registered nurse on Poudre Valley Hospital’s medical unit, as he stood near a large photo of several cows resting in a mountain field.

The framed photograph is one of about 50 local pieces that adorn the walls of the unit’s hallways and patient rooms. The art represents more than just photographs on walls, but the staff’s dedication to improve the experience for older visitors at PVH.

There are 77 million baby boomers in the United States, and 10,000 of them turn 65 each day. At PVH, nearly half of the medical unit’s visitors have already hit that milestone.

“Knowing that’s our population, we wanted to be known as a geriatric-friendly unit,” said RN Breeann Barry, a medical unit charge nurse.

PVH has been a certified Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) facility for about five years, but the medical unit staff wanted to go a step further.

This year, all nurses and certified nurse assistants on the unit will have completed 16 to 20 educational units specific to geriatric care.

“The core message of NICHE is educating nurses and CNAs with geriatric-specific knowledge so that they cannot only take better care of their patients, but also be resources for other staff within the hospital,” said Peggy Budai, nurse practitioner and PVH’s NICHE coordinator. “With this education, they understand how age-related changes can impact a person’s ability to heal. They also learn how best to communicate with persons with dementia and delirium.”

PVH and University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora are NICHE-certified hospitals and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland plans to acquire certification this year, Budai said.

Photograph of a local Colorado mountain scene.
This photograph in the medical unit at PVH is among about 50 pieces of art throughout the unit specifically chosen because of their geriatric-friendly qualities.

The NICHE training provided insight on how to make the medical unit better at meeting the physical and emotional needs of older visitors, bringing the unit’s décor to the forefront.

Studies have shown that art has a strong, positive physiological effect on the brain. One 2011 University of London study even found that a beautiful painting increased brain blood flow by 10 percent.

“The new art can help also people reminisce about beautiful things they have seen here in Colorado,” she said

After researching what would be best for older adults, the unit’s newly formed unit-based council (comprised of the unit’s staff) requested 39 pieces of art for the walls.

Employees submitted their own photographs as well as those of friends and family members, and the council chose their favorites that met the geriatric-friendly guidelines.

“The families and patients really enjoy the new art, and it’s also built morale,” Jantz said, whose father-in-law’s photography is among the newly donated pieces.

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.