Can Your Environment Heal You?

I recently read an article on Evidence-based design (EBD) “Design’s Effects on Health”, Health Progress March-April 2010. EBD is a way to design hospitals and healthcare centers that enrich patient’s lives rather than hinder their healing process. Without getting technical, EBD believes that patients should not have to struggle with their environments. They also believe that the staff should be able to work in a space that is designed to ensure the safety and health of their lives. Lastly, buildings using Evidence-based Design can improve the quality of care and provide more cost effective healthcare.

Evidence-based Design is the brainchild of Dr. Roger Ulrich. In 1984, Dr. Ulrich researched and discovered that if a patient recovering from surgery had a view of nature out of their window they required less pain medication and had a faster recovery.  He also studied how noise affects patients and staff. He found that in a quiet atmosphere patients healed faster and there were fewer errors with the staff. The Center of Health Design describes Evidence-based design as the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes.

After reading the article, I started thinking about our homes. Why can’t we apply these same principles to our personal spaces? Why must Evidence-based design be only used for hospitals? Don’t we all want to live a healthy and safe life? We can use the same principles found in Evidence-based Design in our homes. EBD suggests utilizing natural sunlight, a view of nature and quiet to help patients heal faster and to remain calm during a stressful period.  We can use these same ideas in our homes and even our workspaces to ensure that we stay healthy.  If we used these simple principles, we can live a healthier life free from stress and anxiety.

If natural light helps people recover quicker, then we can we use sunlight in our homes to keep us healthy and energized. EBD found that a healing atmosphere needs to be quiet in order for patients to heal. We can incorporate tranquil sounds into our house to ensure that our home is a healthy space. I know when I turn off the TV I am more productive. I seem to be able to get more accomplished when there is a quiet atmosphere. We can incorporate beautiful artwork to slow us down.  Or we can use scenes of nature to keep us calm. One of the best ways to heal after an illness is to surround yourself with nature. Gardens are a common healing tool.  When we spend time in nature, we can absorb the healing energy of nature and benefit from natures powerful forces.

Evidence-based Design creates a healing environment that can reduce errors, improve patient and staff satisfaction and enhance efficiency. EBD is a powerful way in which we could improve our personal environments not just hospitals, to make them healthy. When we consider these simple suggestions, we can keep our living spaces safe. Take a moment to look at your home and see how you can improve your surroundings in order to ensure a healthy and safe environment.

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