Archive for the ‘Benefits of nature’ Category

What is a Healing Garden?

Sunday, September 11th, 2016
Legacy Meridian

Healing Garden at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Cntr, designed by Brian Bainnson. Photo by Naomi Sachs

My colleague, Dak Kopec, asked me to write a piece on healing gardens for his forthcoming book,  Environmental Psychology for Design, and he has graciously given permission to share it with you here on the TLN Blog. Dak is Director of Design for Human Health at Boston Architectural College and has written many books and other publications on the role of the environment in human health. Thank you, Dak!

Griffin Healing Garden

Healing Garden at The Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital. Photo by Naomi Sachs

What is a “healing garden”?

A “healing garden” is a garden or landscape designed for a specific population, place, and intended positive health outcome. The garden’s design (physical aspects) and programming (activities that take place there) are informed by research. The majority of healing gardens, also referred to as “restorative gardens” and “healthcare gardens” are in healthcare facilities including general acute care hospitals, outpatient clinics, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, mental and behavioral health facilities, hospices, and specialty facilities such as rehabilitation, pediatric, and cancer hospitals and clinics. Garden users include patients or residents, visitors, and staff. Positive outcomes, including stress reduction, are derived through both passive and active nature connection and can take place indoors (via indoor plants, or from viewing nature through a window) and outdoors. A “rehabilitation garden,” “therapeutic garden,” or “enabling garden” is a garden where physical, occupational, horticultural, and other therapies take place. A “restorative landscape” or “landscape for health” is any landscape—wild or designed, large or small—that facilitates human health and well-being (Sachs, 2016).

TIRR Memorial Hermann

Planter with patient-painted tiles, TIRR Memorial Hermann. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Why is access to nature important?

Access to nature promotes health through reduction in stress, depression, myopia, pain, fatigue, aggression, impulsivity, and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and improvement in immune function, bone strength, wound healing, cognition, concentration, emotional resilience, empathy, vitality, relaxation, mood, and satisfaction (Cooper Marcus & Sachs, 2014; Kuo, 2015). Why is nature good for us? Part of the answer can found in the theory of biophilia, “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms” (Kellert & Wilson, 1993, p. 31). Stephen and Rachel Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (1995) is based on the concept that “positive distraction” and “soft fascination” through nature engagement lead to mental and cognitive restoration from the stress caused by “directed attention.” More recent research has identified enhanced immune functioning as a potential “central pathway” in explaining the connection between nature contact and positive health outcomes. Nature, in hospitals and elsewhere, plays a salutogenic role in both disease prevention and health promotion (Kuo, 2015).

Healing Garden at Houston Hospice.

Healing Garden at Houston Hospice. Photo by Naomi Sachs

What elements are important in healing gardens?

Safety, the perception and safety, and comfort are all essential in healthcare gardens. Good design and proper maintenance can address challenges such as climatic extremes, inclement weather, pollen, and harmful bacteria and insects. For example, a choice of sun and shade enables users to be outside throughout the day. Covered seating areas, especially at the garden entrance, allow even the frailest of users to venture out when the weather is not ideal. Gardens should be designed so that even when they are not physically accessible, they can be viewed from indoors and are a pleasure to see in all four seasons. According to Roger Ulrich’s Theory of Supportive Garden Design (1999), healing gardens should provide 1) nature engagement (plants, animals, water, fresh air), 2) a sense of control (for example, doorways that are easily navigable, and areas where people can find privacy), 3) opportunities for social support, and 4) opportunities for movement and exercise. While it may seem obvious that nature should be present in a healing garden, examples of nature-poor healthcare “gardens” abound. Stakeholders must work together to maximize the natural, biophilic elements that facilitate the best possible outcomes for all users.

Smilow Cancer Center

Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander Healing Garden, Smilow Cancer Hospital. Designer: Towers Golde. Photo by Naomi Sachs

References

Cooper Marcus, C., & Sachs, N. A. (2014). Therapeutic landscapes: An evidence-based approach to designing healing gardens and restorative outdoor spaces. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169–82.

Kellert, S. R., & Wilson, E. O. (1993). The biophilia hypothesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Kuo, M. (2015). How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(1093).

Sachs, N. A. (2016). Gardens/Overview. Therapeutic Landscapes Network website. Retrieved from http://www.healinglandscapes.org/gardens.

Ulrich, R. S. (1999). Effects of gardens on health outcomes: Theory and research. In Cooper Marcus, C. & Barnes, M. (Eds.), Healing gardens: Therapeutic benefits and design recommendations (27–86). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Book citation: Sachs, N. A. (in Press). In D. Kopec (author). Environmental psychology for design, 3rd Edition. New York: Fairchild Books.

 

“Ecoliteracy Under Our Feet” – Greening Cleveland Elementary School

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Children and nature

For the last Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog post of 2014, we want to share an inspiring story of one of many schools that that is “greening” its schoolyard. The six gardens and overall ecoliteracy program at Cleveland Elementary School in Oakland, CA were spurred by Mary Schriner, who interviewed for a position there. When they asked her why she wanted to work at Cleveland Elementary, she responded, “Because your school looks like a prison yard, and I’d like to change that.” And she has changed both the school and grounds, and the lives of those who learn and teach there. One of the first conversations with her students began with the question, “What is a weed?” The project has been a tremendous success. Says Schriner, “I’ve had many, many moments when I’ve almost wanted to cry because I can feel the community happening, not because of me, but because of the natural world that we’re trying to create conditions for at the school. There’s been so much magic around the garden that I just have a lot of gratitude.”

Click here to read the full article by The Center for Ecoliteracy‘s senior editor Michael Stone, “So Much Magic Around the Garden.”

essay_michael_stone_so_much_magic_garden

The healing garden down the street: Guest blog post by Joan Vorderbruggen and Lisa Overby-Blosser

Friday, August 22nd, 2014
Joan Vorderbruggen's garden patio. All photos by  Joan Vorderbruggen

Joan Vorderbruggen’s garden patio. All photos by Joan Vorderbruggen

I first met Joan Vorderbruggen at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) meeting in 2013 in Providence, RI. She presented an expanded version of this lovely post, and I was very moved. Sometimes we researchers and designers get so bogged down in trying to analyze and quantify everything that we forget the more human and – dare I say it? – even the spiritual dimension. Joan’s and Lisa’s words, along with images from Joan’s garden, get to the heart of it. Many thanks to both of them for sharing here.

The healing garden down the street
By Joan Vorderbruggen and Lisa Overby-Blosser

The spring of 2012 held little hope for my neighbor, Lisa, wife and mother of four teenagers.  Lisa had just been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and was given a year or less to live. Asking me if she could spend time in my backyard garden, she felt time in a peaceful setting would help her deal with the upcoming chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and other stresses.

Over that summer, Lisa spent a great deal of time walking the 5-house distance to my yard, sometimes barely able to put one foot in front of the other.  Still, she persevered, settling in to journal, sketch, and just be in the moment.  While I encouraged her to come and go as she pleased, I was happy that at times, she would join me on my deck and, without any prompting, speak of how the garden and natural world supported her during that time. I asked if I could share her words with others.

Lisa’s words (italicized) fit neatly within the framework of Stephen Kellert’s Biophillic Design Elements (below). According to Kellert, these elements stem from an intuitive human-nature connection, where people feel that spending time in nature can help them heal mentally, physically and spiritually. The Biophilia hypothesis assertion is that because humans evolved with nature, they feel comforted by nature (Kellert and Wilson, The Biophilia Hypothesis, 1993).

PROSPECT
The idea of prospect is primarily about being able to control your view, to scan the horizon and understand where you are in relationship to your surroundings.
In the garden you have control – of where you sit, where you look, what you choose to focus on – whether it’s a wide view or something really small…  There are so many choices available to you.  The fact that you can make a choice of something can be healing.

Prospect. Photo by Joan Vorderbruggen

Prospect and Refuge

 

REFUGE
Refuge allows us to feel safe, sheltered and protected.  In my garden, Lisa chose to sit under a grapevine trellis.  She speaks more in metaphor of her feelings of refuge.
The garden is always welcoming; no plants fall over or trees drop their leaves in disgust or empathy when I took my hat off exposing my baldness….  The garden accepts where your body and emotions are at that moment in time.

(more…)

Drs. Ulrich and Donovan: Health Benefits of Nearby Nature

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Portland Memory Garden

Portland Memory Garden, Portland, OR. Photo by Patty Cassidy

Health Benefits of Nearby Nature
Drs. Roger S. Ulrich and Geoffrey Donovan
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 7 – 9 p.m.
Portland State University’s Hoffmann Hall
1833 SW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, OR

Many evidence-based researchers, Dr. Roger S. Ulrich among them, have found that purposefully-designed gardens in healthcare settings improve health outcomes for patients. But did you know that there is a quantifiable relationship between the presence of trees and public health? In his research, Dr. Geoffrey Donovan has found that to be the case. Both Ulrich and Donovan will talk on the Health Benefits of Nearby Nature, Thursday September 12 , 2013 at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Ulrich has found that patients who view “representations” of nature can also find relief from stress and discomfort. For example, heart surgery patients at a Swedish hospital intensive care unit experienced reduced anxiety and less need for pain medication by looking at pictures depicting trees and water.  Over the years, Ulrich’s work has received many awards and has directly impacted the design of billions of dollars of hospital construction, and improved the health outcomes and safety of patients worldwide.  The Sweden-based professor and former director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University,  developed a Theory of Evidence-Based Design; his theory has become influential as a scientifically grounded guide for creating successful healthcare facilities. Ulrich will discuss his recent work involving the effects of single- versus multi-bed patient rooms on infection transmission; the negative impacts of hospital noise on patients and nurses; and how nature, gardens, and art can lessen pain, stress, and healthcare costs.

Ulrich’s co-presenter, Dr. Donovan, is a research forester with the USDA Forest Service who has quantified a wide range of urban-tree benefits. These have ranged from intuitive benefits— for example, reduced summertime cooling costs—to less intuitive benefits such as crime reduction. His recent findings on the relationship between trees and public health, for instance, show that mothers with trees near their homes are less likely to have underweight babies. He has also shown a connection between trees destroyed by invasive pests and a higher human death rate from  cardiovascular and lower-respiratory disease.

Register online for Health Benefits of Nearby Nature.

Nordic Adventure: Connecting Children with Nature

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

International Conference in Copenhagen and Malmö, September 2013

No matter the weather or the season, Nordic children can always be found playing outdoors. The upcoming conference, Nordic Adventure: Connecting Children with Nature, will feature keynote addresses and workshop presentations on the myriad opportunities for connecting children to nature  in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The conference takes place September 10-13, 2013 in Copenhagen and Malmö. The registration deadline was August 20 (sorry, we’re a little behind on our blog posts) but if you act fast, you can probably squeeze in there.

Scandinavian nations have long since worked with adventure and nature playgrounds, school gardens and green school grounds, forest and outdoor preschools, education for sustainable development, and many other nature-based initiatives for children. The English-language conference will be a mixture of plenary sessions, presentations, site visits and social experiences.

For details and information on registration, contact the planning committee: nordicadventure2013@gmail.com, and visit the conference site.