Transforming Healthcare 4: Building Healing Environments

This post is inspired by #FutureMed.

Wandering the corridors of the new Orange Base Hospital, I felt like I had entered the beginning of the future.   I could see green spaces outside, children's play areas, paintings covering the walls. There was colour. There was life. There were screens everywhere and hardly any pieces of paper making a mess across desks. There were patients happily knitting in their open-plan rooms. There was natural light. I was in a hospital that felt happy.

Over the years, I've read quite a few studies lauding the health benefits of natural surrounds in a hospital setting. A room with a view can shorten a hospital stay by several days. Patients leave feeling better, happier and are physically more well than they would be without the touch of nature.  It makes perfect sense when take a moment to think about it. Nature connects us with life outside of ourselves - the trees moving in the wind, the way the sunlight changes over the course of the day, the way that flowers provide food for birds and insects. Spending time surrounded by nature helps us to smile, and smiling helps us to heal.

There were natural undertones even in the hospital corridors. Looking down, the floor is made to look like wooden floorboards. Wooden handrails and wide corridors made natural paths. There are images of the outdoors where a window would be impossible. Stones and abstract tiles reduced the monotony of the environment.

Increasing health outcomes is about more than providing the fanciest of machines and the best of healthcare professionals. It is about providing a welcoming, multi-purpose venue for healing. Orange Base Hospital felt like a place for getting better, rather than a place for sickness. We need to take these ideas and spread them to other new hospitals and to GP clinics. We need to make health holistic. Being natural is healthy and being healthy is natural.


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