Sunday, 20 September 2015

Nature.Health.Design. Bringing nature nearer to the patient

As part of the series looking at how design and wellbeing can interact positively
Futures Forum: Healing by Design
Futures Forum: Healing gardens
Futures Forum: More green spaces at schools 'beneficial in the mental development of children'
Futures Forum: "Green spaces in town and cities create immediate and long lasting improvements in people's wellbeing."

... here is a report from a seminar and exhibition in Bristol from 2003:

Appealing to the Senses


Nature.Health.Design Bringing nature nearer to the patient, a report on the exhibition presentation at the Architecture Centre Bristol

A report of the presentation evening coinciding with the inaugural launch of the full Nature of Healing Art Exhibition at the Architecture Centre Bristol 23rd October 2003

The presentations combined:
* A general overview of the patient experience and context for bringing nature into hospital environments in both UK & Japan by curator graham cooper chairman of 'Art and Architecture' and Health Design writer,
* Japanese Healing Garden. Junichi Imura Consultant/Director of the British Johrei Society described the Japanese traditional respect for nature and the Johrei Society's work in relation to the recently completed Healing Garden at the Okehampton Centre For Health
* Making a Difference The Patient/Carer Satisfaction Measurement Study for the new Bristol Royal Hospital for Children by Maggie Redshaw Psychologist Social Scientist National Perinatal Epidemiology, Unit Health Sciences Institute University of Oxford.
* The Boiled Frog Syndrome, architect Thomas Saunders described his book and the built environment's impact on our health and recovery.


Aproximately thirty people attended the event including four speakers and helpers. The mix audience reflected the different interests of the presentations covered, and one of the particularly successful aspects of this event was the bringing together of different perspectives around theme of the patient's experience and comfort in a healthcare and cultural context.. Director Mark Pearson briefly welcomed everyone and handed over presentation and introductions to the exhibition curator.

The Presentation

1 graham cooper commenced describing the hospital environment as a highly stress-full, impacting on the quality of medical service, patient care and safety. "Evidence based design" confirms artists and designers can contribute to improved medical outcomes. As positive distracters, he reasoned art, music and especially nature all reduce levels of stress by encouraging shifts in mood and relaxation. He described the Nature of Health Design project as a blueprint for better quality care focuses on an integration of art, architecture and garden design to bring natural phenomena nearer to the patient's experience.

Exhibition: He explained the panel presentation follows the patient's journey, through the threshold, and interior pathways to the care reception, ward and garden spaces. Each panel offers a potential mediation space where the building connects the patient to the rhythms and changing patterns of nature. It contains a selection of approaches and benevolent interventions, which, animated by occurrences in the elements are meant to stimulate the patients sensibilities. It offers a fresh insight to health care design where art & architecture are the vehicle for nature to be fully incorporated, within reach of the patient¹s personal space.

2 Johrei Society & Healing Garden 

Junichi Imura Johrei as a therapy aims to help balance mind, body and spirit. It integrates the emotional, physical and spiritual to tackle illness and restore health. Johrei is a form of therapeutic art, which was developed from the 1920s in Japan by Mokichi Okada, an artists, healer and spiritual leader. Based on an understanding that our minds and spirit greatly influence our physical well-being. Modern lifestyles are exposed to pollutants and toxins which affect the body, causing stress and casting clouds over our spirits. Okada realised the body has an inbuilt natural function which works to eliminate toxins and disperse the clouds. The practice of Johrei guide and encourage the natural elimination, through a process of purification. To maintain health and happiness by balancing mind, body and spirit, to bring beauty through artforms such as flower arranging and reating healing spaces.

Imura san briefly explained the philosophy behind traditional Japanese architecture, as a habitation for the spiritual and its connection with the forces of nature. He described the aspirations and background to the Healing Garden commission for the central courtyard at the Okehampton Centre for Health that was completed over the summer. His presentation featured the strolling-garden by the contemporary Japanese landscape artist Tsutomu Kasai, which was influenced by an historic painting by the famous Kannoartist Korin Ogata. Although Okehampton is a moss garden with clear Japanese references Imura san explained how Tsutomu Kasai took particular pains to ensure that the landscape was achieved in the spirit of both the Japanese and Western garden traditions. The result is an integration of ancient tradition with modernity in a context-sensitive hybrid. incorporating local materials on the theme of the river confluence found within the mid-Devon town.

3 Making a Difference: 

The impact of the new Bristol Children's Hospital on children, parents and staff. Report on a study funded by NHS Estates. presented by Maggie Redshaw Psychologist working at UWE, Bristol and now at the NPEU, Health Sciences Institute, University of Oxford. The study utilised data collected in the old and new hospitals, examining the effects of different aspects of the new environment in which art and design had been integral since the planning stage. The needs of children and their families were emphasised and the importance of a comfortable, familiar and 'playful' environment were described. The value of colour and use of themes originating in the natural world were also emphasised and the high levels of satisfaction reflected in the responses of all the three participant groups. Full name of NHS study is 'Design for Health: the impact of a new hospital environment on children, families and staff'. It should be available in the New Year.

4 Thomas Saunders compared the training and education of architects and their understanding of medicine from over 2000 years ago to the present day when, at the start of the 20th Century, perennial wisdom was rejected in favour of the Brave New world. Before then, medicine and the healing process were concerned with our holistic nature - of mind and spirit as well as the body -and the profound effects a building's geometry, materials, sound, light and colours have upon our psyche and subtle energy fields. From the teachings of the ancient mystery schools, it was understood how to create hospitals - healing temples - as environments to restore vitality, the spirit and facilitate the patient's own self-healing energies. Unfortunately, the modern architect's training and understanding of the above meaning of medicine is limited to the information contained in the Public Health Acts and the Building Code Bye-laws to ensure the building is wind and weather tight and properly connected to the main sewers and other utilities. Today's hospitals are reduced to become 'body repair workshops' focused on creating high-tech, sanitised buildings to satisfy the requirements of the medical and administrative staff and to deal with material, physical functions and bodily uses but with little or no awareness of the experiences and other needs of the patients and their visitors.

The installation of certain materials - such as tinted glass windows - and the indiscriminate choice of certain colours, 24 hour lighting and the siting of hazardous electrical/electronic equipment close to the patient's head can be thoroughly detrimental and damaging to a patient's recovery and well-being. Whilst these readily avoidable negative effects are more critical in a hospital, they abundantly and frequently occur in many other building types - schools, offices, factories and our homes. This prompted Saunders to write The Boiled Frog Syndrome ( sub-titled Your Health and the Built Environment, publisher Wiley - Academy ) which sets out, for so-called 'ordinary people,' how to prudently avoid the health hazards created by our modern cities and buildings, including hospitals, and how the client - all those engaged in the commissioning of building projects - as well as the architect can and must become aware of and address the full spectrum and holistic aspects of a human being.

Copies of the book can be obtained from the author by emailing tom@thomssaunders.net and visiting the web site www.thomassaunders.net

Audience Responses - Informal feedback:

1 Landscape Architect - recommended the hospital visitor be included in the process and discussion.

2 Erica Ricks Knowledge Manager NHS Estates drew the audience attention to recent NHS publications based on the patient's experience. The following titles/topics will be of relevance to those particularly interested in the patients' environment.

Recently published
*The impact of the built environment on care within A&E departments
*The Architectural Healthcare Environment and its effects on Patient Health Outcomes : Research conducted by Prof. Bryan Lawson and Dr Michael Phiri, Sheffield University
*The Architectural Healthcare Environment and its effects on Patient Health Outcomes : database of references for evidence-based research work on how environment affects patient outcomes.
*Improving the Patient Experience - The art of good health: a practical handbook
*Improving the Patient Experience - The art of good health: Using visual arts in healthcare
*Improving the Patient Experience - Friendly healthcare environments for children and young people

Due for completion 2003/2004
*Restaurant Services at Ward Level
*Space Around the Bed for Privacy and Dignity
*Welcoming Entrances and Reception Areas
*Hospital Accommodation for Children and Young People

NHS ESTATES Full Publications list : available at www.nhsestates.gov.uk

For further details please contact The Architecture Centre Narrow Quay Bristol BS14 QA

Architecture Centre; Johrei Society; Thomas Saunders; Bristol Royal

With thanks to:
Graham Cooper, Environmental Artist, Art and Architecture, Space related

See also:
Futures Forum: 'Human Touch' >>> 'A full colour introduction to art in relation to architectural space and public places' >>> a review

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