Website spotlight: Increasing nurses’ competency with geriatric patients

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 18, 2010

A hospital stay often increases confusion and anxiety in patients with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, complicating the care of their primary diagnosis and potentially lengthening their stay. With an aging population, acute care hospitals are seeing more elderly patients, increasing the need for nurses competent in geriatrics and gerontology.

One hospital is focusing on dementia patients' needs through nurse training and environmental changes. Glen Cove hospital in New York, part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, now has more nurses qualified in Alzheimer's care than any other acute care facility

The idea to improve care of the Alzheimer's and dementia population came out of a joint meeting with representatives from local nursing homes, says Susan Kwiatek, associate executive director for patient services at Glen Cove. The community hospital serves three nursing homes and several assisted living facilities.

"Average life expectancy has gone up and we're seeing more and more patients who are elderly and have Alzheimer's or dementia. We wanted to create a continuum of care in the best interest of patients," says Kwiatek. "We wanted to ensure a safe and comfortable environment, and also the respect and dignity of our patents."

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