Healing Environments: How to Design Wellbeing

  • solevital

    Healing Environments:

    How to Design Wellbeing

Booster Blog

Healing environments

While hospitals might not be on anyone’s list of favourite hang outs, healthcare professionals strive to create spaces which welcome patients into a safe, comfortable, and relaxing environment. Practical efficiency is important, but easily overlooked is the importance of creating a healing environment. The physical aspects of a space have the potential to not only support the physical needs of the patient, but also the psycho-social and spiritual needs. It can have measurable effects on the clinical outcomes of patients, as well as the effectiveness of staff.

  • solevital
  • erasmus
  • erasmus-mc-EGMCredits: EGM architecten

Thus, careful consideration needs to be given to every part of the physical space if a healing environment is to be achieved. This is particularly true in hospitals as many patients are bedbound and limited to their immediate environment. From interior design to architecture, design has a huge part to play in the healing process of patients. Healthcare architects, interior designers, and researchers came up with four key points that can measurably improve patient outcome and experience. They include; reducing or eliminating environmental stressors, providing positive distractions, enabling social support, and giving a sense of control. Here's how design can achieve these key points;

Connection to nature

Within healthcare, studies have shown the phenomenal effects of incorporating nature in design. Researchers have found the appropriate use of nature reduces stress levels, improves health results, supports pain management, and promotes a sense of overall well-being among patients, visitors, and staff. In fact, patients who were in direct visual or sensual contact with nature exhibited higher thresholds of pain! A little bit of nature can go a long way. Whether it comes through a piece of art, or a stroll in a garden, this connection to nature can be a positive distraction that greatly relieves stress.

Lighting

Natural luminosity plays a vital role in the healing environment. The effect of light on human life is well documented. It’s one of our fundamental sources of life that governs our biological rhythms and hormones.

The absence of daylight can have serious impact on health and, thus, lighting should be well integrated into any healthcare design. The use of light wells and skylights can bring natural light into areas that aren’t adjacent to an exterior wall. In turn, access to daylight can also provide views outside. This can be a great relief for patients. Ambient lighting can also provide a sense of wellbeing in healthcare facilities. Erasmus Medical Center gave this heavy consideration throughout the design and construction process. Maximum daylight gives an air of comfort throughout the facility.

Interior design elements

Rather than the impersonal and institutional environments that we experience at big hospitals, conventional healthcare is heading in a different direction. Through careful consideration of colours, furniture, lighting and other elements, patients are made to feel at-home. The organization of furniture can offer a relaxing space that enables relaxed social interaction. Clear directions can also give a sense of comfort and control to patients staying in large facilities.

In healthcare, there is no such thing as a ‘neutral environment’. A simple design theme can counteract the standard clinical setting of hospitals and work as a positive distraction. Across the field, Bolidtop® FiftyFifty has been used to bring life into healthcare centers. The mixing of two liquid colours brings together an appealing glimmer. Valiant Clinic Dubai and Solevital therapy center both employed Bolidtop® FiftyFifty as part of their healing environment design plan.

Noise reduction

Something else which can add to the overall wellness of a patient is noise reduction. This can be achieved partly through architectural planning (not overcrowding beds and arranging rooms with noise management in mind), as well as through the choice of materials. Bolidt flooring has excellent noise dampening qualities, which is one of the reasons it’s often chosen for healthcare facilities. Water features can also replace unnecessary noise and provide a soothing alternative.

The future of healthcare facilities will place the patient and their experience at the top of its priorities. It will do this, partially, by harnessing the potential of architecture and design. The design and architecture of  a healthcare facility will in itself aid the healing process. We look forward to being part of that bright future in healthcare.

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