Optimal Healing Environments (OHEs) are those environments in which characteristics of the individuals and various elements of the organization are focused on social, psychological, physical, cultural, and spiritual components that support and enhance the inherent healing capacities of the individuals who live and work in the environment. Healing relationships, the powerful effect of evidence-based design and all its elements (color, sound, light, art), a focus on nature, the impact of technology on health, and the important environment aspects of health such as clean air and water are all explored in this innovative certificate program.
A healing relationship involves two major elements—a relationship with the self (intrapersonal relationship) and relationships with others (interpersonal relationships). Each is critical to creating a healing environment for an organization’s staff and clients. Healing relationships support the social, spiritual, psychological, physical, and behavioral components of people and the organization. These relationships stimulate the healing abilities inherent in patients/clients, employees, and families. Optimal healing environments support and enhance the intentions, health behaviors, treatments, and buildings of all who share the space.
The use of color in healing has a long history. A fundamental aspect of environmental design, color has also been linked to physical, psychological, and social reactions in all of its uses. Color’s characteristics can influence how it is used in healing and what effects it might produce.
Light has been a part of all life since the beginning of time. It plays a critical role in the health and well-being of every living thing on the planet. As humans have evolved, they have often moved away from the natural light of their ancestors and have increasingly been exposed to artificial forms of light. The effects on their health have been profound. As we increasingly focus on improving the design of healthcare environments, it is only natural to examine the role of light in those environments.
Music and art have tremendous healing powers. Creative expression offers patients and staff the ability to heal on multiple levels. Understanding of the intricate relationship between stress and the health of our body, mind, and spirit continues to grow, and we have discovered that healing therapies which incorporate art and music can actually change a person’s physiology. They connect individuals and communities as well.
Walking barefoot on the grass, listening to the ocean or the rush of a river, hearing the sounds of baby birds chirping in the spring, smelling the desert after a summer thunderstorm, or watching the silence of a winter snowfall. These sensory experiences can help us feel peaceful, awestruck, humbled, exhilarated, and connected to the grander world beyond ourselves. The use of natural elements to heal or to support well-being is as old as human history, but it fell out of favor in the healthcare profession for many decades. Now, the realization of the power of nature to heal is undergoing a tremendous resurgence and is providing additional therapies and tools for healthcare providers to help support the well-being and healing among patients, clients, staff, and community members.
The quality of the air we breathe is essential to our overall well-being. Contaminants in our external air, as well as the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces, play an important role in many diseases. In high enough concentrations, these contaminants can be fatal. Creating optimal healing environments requires close attention to air quality, temperature, humidity, and odors.
According to the World Health Organization, access to safe water is essential to health and a basic human right. Yet globally, unsafe water causes millions of deaths from diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition, and drowning. The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world, but national statistics do not tell individuals about the quality and safety of the water coming out of their own taps. In addition, more and more reports are surfacing about contaminants in the U.S. water supply. Healthcare professionals play an important role in preventing waterborne illness and in educating the public about potential health risks related to exposure to microbial and chemical contaminants in drinking water.
Technology is an important and beneficial part of modern life. It can save us time, help us work more efficiently and effectively, and support personal and global changes. Yet many individuals never fully disconnect from their technological devices, and social, physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties can occur as a result. Called “technostress,” this condition is often related to multitasking and can lead to loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and depression. Yet there are many ways to manage technostress and learn to use technology wisely.