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Can the Hospital Environment Influence Patient Recovery?

Higher Education Articles July 14, 2014

People, like all other living things, are sensitive to their environment. This is especially true during times of illness and injury. An environment that is not only safe and secure, but also physically and psychologically comfortable are essential to patient recovery. As a nurse, one of your responsibilities is to ensure the comfort of your patient, which may vary by individual as well as circumstance.

What Makes Up the Hospital’s Physical Environment?

The environment of care consists of three primary components. These are:

•The hospital building, treatment areas, staff areas and patient rooms, including the arrangement of furnishings
•Equipment used for patient care
•People, including hospital staff, visitors and other patients

Within each of these components are many factors, including the angle of the bed, the noise created by the MRI machine and the hallway conversations of staff. Each patient has different tolerances and ideals for comfort.

How Hospital Staff Play a Role in Creating an Ideal Environment for Patients

As a nurse, your concern is not just with the delivery of medical care and charting of your patient, but also to ensure that the environment is conducive to healing. A private and inviting space helps patients relax and shows that visitors are welcome. Visits may boost a patient’s mood. A calm, quiet and comfortable environment helps to reduce stress, which also helps to speed the healing and recovery processes. Rooms with a pleasant view, furnishings that look like home and small comforts such as extra pillows can make a huge difference to patients. Hospital staff can take actions such as:

•Asking about the patient’s comfort during each blood pressure, temperature or medication visit
•Increase the connection to nature. If a patient room doesn’t have a view, framed botanical prints may work as a substitute.
•Enhance the patient’s social support. Make sure visitors are offered water and a comfortable place to wait to see their family member.

The Role of Family in the Hospital’s Environment

A patient who has a positive relationship with his or her family can be comforted by their presence while in the hospital. As a nurse, you can facilitate the patient’s recovery by offering effective communication with family members. Calling patients and family members by their names rather than room numbers, asking if they have any questions about the patient’s care and providing patients and their families with the resources they need for continued recovery after discharge can all help create a positive influence on the spirit as well as mental and physical state of the patient.

Enhancing Patient Choices

Being in control of your own person adds to the sense of comfort and security that a patient feels. As a nurse, you can offer your patient choices such as tea or coffee with meals; the timing of meals; dimming or brightening the lights; opening or closing the window shades; and adjusting the room temperature. This sense of control helps to empower your patients and speed their recovery.

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