Recent research suggests access to nature creates healthy results in patients, and accrediting agencies such as the Green Guide for Health Care and LEED for Healthcare are beginning to recognize those findings.
But an article in the July issue of Healthcare Design suggests that there is still plenty of confusion about exactly what “access to nature” means, and how officials can measure it or achieve good results from it. The story studies green roofs in particular, as a feature growing in popularity in new construction.
Studies have shown that being in the presence of a natural environment can improve concentration and well-being, but there are caveats. In an urban setting, for instance, where tall grass may be associated with neglect, a prairie-style green roof will need other cues to let viewers know that the area is cared for – such as straight lines, some mowed areas, or colorful annuals.
Even a wild-flowing area will require care, and patients notice such things: if plants are poorly tended or dying, patients will make assumptions about the hospital’s devotion to their own care. But a green roof’s appeal can be enhanced by adding fragrant plants or habitats for butterflies or birds.
Since the natural areas at a healthcare facility are going to be used by sick people, due diligence must be taken to ensure that potting soil, pest treatment, plant food and other necessities are maintained regularly and have no negative effects. Sunny areas should also offer shade.
Read the article and view the photo gallery.