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.”
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.