Healing environments conquer healthcare
Lots of natural light, a green environment, less noise-induced stress and use of durable materials: healing environments are receiving increasing attention in healthcare.
The recently opened Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, was built entirely according to these principles. The layout and design of this hospital are intended to facilitate much-needed rest and promote the recovery process.
The main characteristic is the huge amount of natural light entering the building.
At a recent seminar in the hospital, several experts laid out their visions on the topic of healing environments. Philip van Klaveren, facilities manager at the Meander Medical Centre, explained why this Dutch hospital is different from other hospitals. “The main characteristic is the huge amount of natural light entering the building, which helps with orientation and creates a feeling of spaciousness. We want this hospital to breathe hospitality. We therefore have only single rooms, and the waiting rooms are comfortably furnished.”
“Reducing noise is also important in a healing environment,” said Philip van Klaveren. “This is partly a matter of awareness. You can train the staff not to talk too loud. In addition, as far as possible we keep the transport of goods and patients out of the sight and hearing of patients and visitors. This all helps create a welcoming, patient-friendly environment.”
Architect Dorte Kristensen represented Atelier Pro, the firm that designed the Meander Medical Centre. It was a real challenge to build a hospital on healing environment principles.
“But I’m very proud of the results. Despite its size of more than 100,000 square metres, it’s a hospital where people can easily and intuitively find their way around. For me, a healing environment in a hospital means that you take the patient seriously. It is important for people to have a choice. Therefore, for example, the windows open in the single rooms. Fresh air and space: give people what they need.”
The satisfaction of patients and their loved ones is higher in a healing environment
Scientists are not yet clear as to what extent a healing environment really contributes to a speedy recovery, said Irene Jongerden, researcher at the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht). “But the research that we conducted in the intensive care unit (ICU) at UMC Utrecht shows that the satisfaction of patients and their loved ones is higher in such an environment. The new ICU has single rooms with less noise, a nice view, artificial light in a colour of your choice and better facilities for the family.”
To gauge satisfaction, the researcher used questionnaires. “The atmosphere, friendliness and tranquillity scores are now significantly higher than they were at the old ICU. I hope that more scientists will investigate the effect of the environment on the wellbeing and satisfaction of the patient and family. The results of our study are promising,” said Irene Jongerden.
Text: Aliëtte Jonkers
Photo: Ingredient Media