At the heart of the healthcare industry is the wellness and recovery of patients.
This goes beyond just treating the illness or injury. It’s about providing an environment that promotes healing, safety, and comfort.
The Healing Power of a Window
In 1984, a landmark study by Roger Ulrich found that patients recovering from surgery in rooms with a view of nature had shorter hospital stays, took fewer pain medications, and experienced fewer complications compared to patients in rooms with a view of a brick wall. The study suggested that exposure to nature views and natural light can have a significant impact on patient recovery.
Since then, numerous studies have confirmed that certain design features in hospital rooms can affect patient outcomes.
Most recently, in October 2022, research findings were presented at the Scientific Forum of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress, which shed light on the positive impact of room design on patient recovery. The study found that several room features influenced clinical outcomes after surgery, including:
- distance from a nursing station
- single room occupancy
- having a direct line of sight where clinicians can see into the room
After adjusting for patient comorbidities and the complexity of the operation, mortality rates were 20% higher if patients were admitted to a hospital room without a window than if they were put in a room with a window. These findings suggest that access to natural light and outdoor views may be a vitally important part of optimizing patient outcomes after surgery.
Why a Nice View Matters
There are several proposed reasons why nature views might have a positive impact on patient recovery in healthcare settings:
- Reduced stress: Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress levels, which can lead to faster recovery times and better health outcomes.
- Improved mood: Viewing nature can improve a patient’s mood, which can lead to a more positive outlook on the recovery process.
- Increased relaxation: Views of nature can induce a state of relaxation in patients, which can lead to better sleep and improved healing.
- Enhanced cognitive function: Exposure to nature has also been linked to improved cognitive function, which may help patients better understand and manage their condition.
Creating a Healing Environment
A healing environment is one that is designed to promote the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of patients. It is an environment that is comfortable, safe, and conducive to healing. Such environments can improve patient outcomes, reduce the length of hospital stays, and lower healthcare costs.
A healing environment can be achieved through various means, such as incorporating natural elements, providing access to natural light and views, using soothing colors and textures, and creating spaces for relaxation and meditation.
Additionally, patient-centered care, which involves engaging patients in their care and treating them as partners in their recovery, can also contribute to a healing environment.
Where windows are not available, many hospitals are now incorporating gardens and courtyards into their architecture, or even nature-themed artwork to create a similar effect.
So if you or a loved one is stuck in a hospital room recovering from an illness, open up the window blinds and let the light in. If there isn’t a window in the room, see if there is a rooftop terrace or garden somewhere in the hospital that you can visit.