Creating a Sense of Place in the Hospital Setting
Evidence based design calls for creating physical environments that promote healing and reduce stress. Many healthcare owners, architects and designers are creating spaces that allow access to natural light, private patient rooms and family amenities. But what about giving patients that familiar feeling of being at home. How do we design a “sense of place” in the hospital facility?
This article in Psychology Today examines The Place of Place in Our Lives and the importance of the sense of place. The author states that environmental psychologists have found that certain environments are more restorative than others. “People who are mentally fatigued, for example, find their ability to maintain focus is more likely to be restored after experiencing environments such as lakes and hills rather than city streets or industrial zones. Both psychologists and sociologists acknowledge the concept of attachment to place. Sociologists realize that space can create and reinforce inequality. Architects and urban planners have increasingly turned their attention to the ways in which spaces can be designed so as to encourage social interaction and a sense of safety and community,” the author explains.
Hospitals are often a place filled with unknowns. Patients and visitors find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings with a disoriented sense of place. So what can hospital leaders do to create a sense of place that comforts patients and visitors? Artwork featuring local landscapes remind patients they are being cared for near home by people who know them well. Familiar scenes remind patients of their “place” and reduce the unknowns making their experience more home-like. Presbyterian Rust Medical Center’s evidence based art program provides a visual reminder of place by celebrating the local culture in New Mexico and landscape of the hospital’s surrounding counties.