What is a healing environment?

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

Optimal Healing Environment (OHE) is starting to be more and more implement in Healthcare facilities and hospitals.

But what is an OHE?

Graphic created by Samueli Institute

As shows the graphic above this type of environment is complex because it is a whole system that involves many factors. According to Samueli institute research, an OHE is one where the social, psychological, physical, spiritual, and behavioral components of healthcare support and stimulate the body's innate capacity to heal itself.


In this complex system, we are going to focus on the external environments (the factor highlights in green in the graphic) that can help stimulate the inner environment of the patients and caregivers; the physical space as a healing environment and how in a complex system, we can make small changes that can have a large impact of hospital and healthcare facilities.


“Patients and visitors of the new Zaans Medical Center will experience an atmosphere designed to support their recovery.” Text and picture from Bēhance article.

What does healing mean?

Healing is come from the Anglo-saxon word healen which means to become whole. While curing is using treatment to restore the health by eliminating all evidence of disease. Healing is focusing on the restoration of the wholeness by integrating body,mind and spirit in the restorative process. Both can work together for a better living for the patients and providers.


How the environment can help to heal?

We can change the perception of a space by transforming an existent area or creating a new one that promotes healing.


Here’s some factors that can enhance the space:

  1. Light

  2. Space

  3. Color

  4. Shape

  5. Texture

  6. Artwork

How Healing environment can have a positive impact in healthcare ?


Studies show that well-designed environments can have a real nurturing and therapeutic effects. They can reduce anxiety,stress that allow patients to recover faster. This sense of well-being is not only affect the person in need, it also has a positive influence on the staff and visitors that created more satisfaction and productivity. On management level, healing environment can help contain costs. Improving the environment can reduce the length of stay, reduce medication use, lessen pain and shorten hospitalization.


Implement healing environment is not a new idea, it was already enlightened in the 19th century by Florence Nightingale. However, it is just now that this idea starts slowly to be implement in healthcare. I believe that Healing environment can contribute to a better Future.


Thanks for reading.


Sophie Piedra-Mansuet


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