Creating a Healing Environment
By CareerSmart Learning Contributor, August 10, 2015, as published by Healthcare Hot Spot
A healing environment can help seriously ill patients to be more receptive to medical care and improve their outlook as they go through treatment. So what can we do to create a healing environment?
The first step is to understand the difference between healing and curing. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are different. We associate cure with something external. For example, with appropriate intervention, an infection may be cured.
Healing, on the other hand, is an internal process that occurs on an emotional or spiritual level. Studies show that a calm, nurturing environment can help promote healing. Humor and laughter or quiet reflection and meditation can also support healing. Healing brings acceptance and renewal, despite the state of the body. This is why a patient may be healed without being cured, and vice versa.
There are different ways we can create healing environments for our patients. Here are a few suggestions to try:
- Create a designated place and time for solitude. Is there a comfortable place where people can find stillness, pray, meditate, read, or journal? If a patient is bedbound, can quiet hours be scheduled throughout the day where the patient has time to reflect without interruptions or noises from the loud speaker?
- Keep the patient informed of changes in routine, and speak to the patient in an open, unrushed manner.. Something so small as a quick update in a friendly tone can go a long way in reducing anxiety and quelling fear. A smile, a gentle touch, or just a few calming minutes to stop and listen to your patient are simple yet impactful gestures. When fear and anxiety decrease, so does stress, which is good for healing the body, mind, and spirit.
- Extend the benefits of the healing environment to the patient’s family, friends, and significant members of their support system. Inclusiveness has a way of healing as it fosters connection. Connections build emotional strength. The more the family members feel supported by the environment, the more strength they have to offer the patient.
- Give control to the individual. Recognize the wholeness that already exists, even when a patient cannot readily respond, whether out of fear or illness. Having human connection to signal mutual respect is important, such as making eye contact and finding opportunities to offer choices, however simple they may be.
- Depend on animals. Animals are a great source of comfort, and comfort brings calmness and equanimity. When medically approved and appropriate, affection from a therapy dog, cat, or even a rabbit can soften defenses and leave a patient feeling loved.
- Bring nature inside. Studies show that being in nature is calming and reduces high blood pressure and anxiety. Create a healing garden with flowers, plants, herbs, wind chimes, sculptures, or a fountain. These symbols of natural beauty can help reinforce emotional clarity and wellness.
Here are a few more ways to create healing environments that promote healing:
Use of alternative therapies such as
- Music or sound therapy that incorporate nature sounds
- Guided imagery
- Group meditation
- Yoga or simple stretching-can be done while in bed, in a chair, or on the floor
- Art therapy
- Use of calming color schemes that are also contemporary and uplifting- shades of green, blue, violet, or a muted grey with a splash of color
Keep in mind that any act or gesture that helps the patient heal will only support wellness, wholeness, and quality of life. By doing so, we pave the way for more optimistic patient outcomes coupled with shorter lengths of stay. Healing environments can also have a positive effect on staff as it can increase morale and deepen the satisfaction of a person’s role. Together, these factors contribute to a better patient experience in the long and short term.
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