NICHE Program

Vision of NICHE Council

Meridian Health will become comprehensive centers of excellence in the care of the older adult patient, which promotes the ability of the older adult to maximize his/her strengths and abilities to support their well-being and quality of life.


In caring for our older adults, NICHE at Meridian will provide all team members with the following essential tools:

  • a comprehensive geriatric knowledge base that will build a strong foundation in the culture of healthcare practice
  • utilize evidence-based practice guidelines to enhance the care of our older adult patients
  • promote respect and dignity of the aging population
  • support the older adult patient to function at his/her highest level.

History of NICHE

Started in 1992, NICHE has evolved into a national geriatric nursing program comprising 197 active sites in 38 states as well as parts of Canada and The Netherlands. A program of The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University, the goal of NICHE is to achieve systematic nursing change that will benefit hospitalized older patients. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65 and over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to import principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of health care facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults.

NICHE is unlike other programs in that it does not prescribe how institutions should modify geriatric care; rather, it provides the materials and services necessary to stimulate and support the planning and implementation process. The focus of NICHE is on programs and protocols that are dominantly under the control of nursing practice; in other words, areas where nursing interventions have a substantive and positive impact on patient care.

Upon implementation of NICHE, hospitals report there is enhanced nursing knowledge and skills regarding treatment of common geriatric syndromes, greater patient satisfaction, decreased length of stay for elderly patients, reductions in readmission rates, increases in the length of time between re-admissions, and reductions in costs associated with hospital care for the elderly.

NICHE at Meridian Health

Meridian Health, through the Ann May Center for Nursing, implemented NICHE units in 2002 at Riverview Medical Center (4 South) and Jersey Shore University Medical Center (Booker 3), and an ACE unit (Acute Care of the Elderly) at Ocean Medical Center (4 West, now 4 North). In 2005, Rosa 2 at JSUMC became another NICHE unit. Southern Ocean Medical Center became a NICHE hospital in August 2010. All of our Meridian Nursing and Rehabilitation facilities and Meridian At Home are NICHE affiliates as of 2011.

There is a Meridian Health NICHE Council with members from various units, hospitals, long term care facilities and home care, as well as the Ann May Center for Nursing.

The Meridian Health NICHE Council meets on odd months, every third Thursday, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Rich Hader Institute for Clinical Integration, Ann May Center for Nursing, in lobby Conference Room, 1355 Campus Parkway, Neptune, NJ.

There are also site-specific NICHE Committees at Southern Ocean Medical Center (Marion Murray), Ocean Medical Center (Tamara Brown) and Bayshore Community Hospital (Denise Schwartz).

Gerontological Nursing education programs

Geriatric programs have been facilitated through grant funding from the United States Department of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) since 2005. Many educational programs are planned at various sites throughout Meridian Health. Nursing contact hour programs include topics such as Geriatric Simulation and Elder Abuse, Pain, Sexuality, Alcoholism, and Dysphasia; Managing Challenging Behaviors, Certified Dementia Practitioner, and Library Search.

Registration information and flyer available on HealthStream in the "Ann May Center for Nursing" folder

Geriatric Certification Review course has been held many times per year since 2004 for RNs and LPNs. Since that time, over 200 nurses have taken the course with many achieving Gerontological Certification through the American Nurses Association and the National LPN Federation. The course grants 14.25 contact hours for two days, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Gerontological Evidence-Based Nursing Conferences

2004 - Providing a Safe Environment for the Older Adult Patient
2006 - Caring for the Older Adult Patient: Mind, Body, and Spirit
2007 - Focus on Geriatric Care: A Collaborative Approach
2008 - Pearls of Geriatric Wisdom: A Patient-Centered Approach to Evidence-Based Care of the Older Adult, co-sponsored with New York University Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing NICHE, with a pre-conference Environmental Enhancements for Hospitalized Elders.
2009 - SPICES of Life: A Patient-Centered Approach to Evidence-Based Care of the Older Adult
2010 – Magnet + NICHE = The Best Outcomes for Older Adults
2011 - Action Learning to Enhance Geriatric Care & Education
2012 - Celebrating 10th Anniversary with NICHE! And First Ever Faculty Institute
2013 – Ninth Annual Geriatric Evidence-Based Conference and 2nd Annual Faculty Institute

Ethnogeriatrics is health care for older persons from diverse ethnic populations. Meridian Health's Ann May Center for Nursing and the Department of Cultural Diversity have developed a program to encourage Cultural Competence in Geriatrics at the bedside. The Cultural Ambassador program's purpose is to increase the ability of the bedside nurse to give health care in ways that are acceptable and useful to older persons that is congruent with their cultural background and expectations. Through quarterly workshops the Cultural Ambassadors:

  • Become aware of one's personal biases and their impact on professional behavior;
  • Gain knowledge of population specific health-related cultural values, beliefs, and behaviors; disease incidence, prevalence or mortality rates; population-specific treatment outcomes;
  • Learn skills in working with culturally diverse populations through simulation and role playing.

Cultural Ambassadors are selected by their manager to represent their unit, to act as a role model for other staff by championing cultural best care practices and protocols. The Cultural Ambassador will assist colleagues and other health care workers with cultural competencies and resources, with an emphasis on improving care and outcomes for the patients in our health care system.

Please visit the Cultural Ambassador webpage for further information, dates of workshops (sign-up on HealthStream in Cultural Diversity folder), and past workshop presentations.

Specialty Scholars – Geriatric Focus

Specialty Scholars focusing on the Geriatric population are encouraged to attend NICHE Council meetings (see above dates) and the appropriate Quality/Research/EBP Council meetings held at their campus for project implementation mentoring.

Learn more about our Specialty Scholar Program here.

Our journey continues, so join us!

For more information, contact Meridian Ann May Center for Nursing at 732-481-8570 or Joan Harvey, DNP, R.N., CCRN Geriatric Program Manager, 732-481-8572,

Click here for more information on NICHE or consult Geriatric RN resources here.