Artwork at hospitals can help in the healing process. Art can improve the physical appearance of a Medical Facility giving patients the perception that they are going to receive outstanding care.

A growing body of research shows that decorating hospitals with specific types of artwork can speed up a patient's healing process, while gloomy walls or the wrong kind of art can cause physical distress.

"It's the whole emotional and perceptual context you are in," says a researcher. "When you're in a hospital, it's high stress. When we are high stress, we go back to our primal need to be soothed." He says scientific studies show that art can aid in the recovery of patients, shorten hospital stays and help manage pain. But he says it has to be the right art -- vivid paintings of landscapes, friendly faces and familiar objects can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Images that have been proven to calm patients, include green landscapes, water scenes, cultural artifacts and emotionally expressive pictures of people.

Thus, pictures that clearly portray pleasant images are more soothing. "If you are under stress and anxiety, if you see an image that is ambiguous, you interpret it negatively." Environmental psychologists began studying health care in the 1960s. In 1984, scientists found that postoperative patients healed more quickly and successfully if they had park-view windows. Through the 1980s, scientists became more interested in the role of art in hospitals. The concept of therapeutic design has become more popular in the last decade.

Clinical and academic research in the past 10 years has been really putting a strong influence on the healing effects of health-care facilities. The hallways, which were previously dull and outdated, are now lined with paintings of trees, flowers and fields. Patients trying to regain mobility after hip and knee surgeries are met with motivational pictures every 25 feet to keep them energized. These distance markers, adorned with inspirational quotes and pictures of plants, replaced plain pieces of tape that were used before the art was installed. "Before it just looked like an old hospital. Now it's calming, and it's not a regular hospital environment."

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Artwork to keep patients oriented to their surroundings.

Although there is a wealth of scientific knowledge about art and health care, there is much more to learn. Art Researchers are studying the role of art in pediatric units, and how artwork affects the perception of patient wait time in urgent care. Ultimately, it is a design field. There is no compromise on creativity and originality. But it has to be strongly based in research and evidence, because the stakes are so high.

Art is not being looked at any more as an added bit of decoration but as an integral part of the healing process.Nowadays, hospitals employ music, poetry, dance and art in their healing programs. They use waterfalls, fish tanks, fountains, gardens and nearby ponds or lakes to create relaxing settings. Rural, environmental art seems to be more popular than cityscapes. Aim is to reduce stress levels and promote positive, healing images in a home-like or spa setting. Indeed, those within the health-care industry have measured the effects of artwork on blood pressure, heart beats and other responses. Initial evidence suggests patients respond with fewer medications and shorter stays.

Hospital art world is about more than picking soothing colors and landscape portraits. One really has to be educated about all the different hospital departments. What artwork one would put into radiology is nothing like what one would put into ... pediatrics. One has to really know the hospital. Large framed photographs possessing therapeutic qualities.

A growing movement is to not only incorporate more art in hospitals but also the right kinds of art.

As more studies emerge on the healing effects of art, more hospitals are including art installation into their overall budgets, of healthcare arenas and healthcare environments . These days, the healthcare industry continues to add more hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities

Why Hospitals Want Art

There are three major incentives for hanging art in a hospital, and a solid art program should address each one, says a provider of art to corporate, institutional and healthcare environments.

For starters, art can improve the physical appearance of a hospital giving patients the perception that they are going to receive outstanding care. An up-to-date interior can go a long way in the overall appeal of the facility. If a piece looks like it has been hanging on the wall for 15 years, it might be perceived that the hospital is behind the times, possibly in areas reaching beyond aesthetics.

Communicating a message of quality care, or “quality transparency,” a phrase used in healthcare circles, through a quality art program is a cost-effective means for enhancing a healthcare facility.

By complementing the architecture and design of a hospital’s healing environment, art will reflect the hospital’s improvements in technology and care as well as emphasize its nurturing character.

Appropriate artwork will promote the hospital’s image of high-quality care not only for the body but also for the mind and spirit.

Secondly, art provides a way for a medical staff to reach out to families because the right images can set a patient at ease and help them relate to the facility in terms they can understand. Art can take a patient’s mind off their pain by simply being there in front of them in their treatment space or in patients’ areas. Art can give comfort and hope to patients by taking their minds off their pain and frustration.

And, finally, art can create a better working environment for the physicians, nurses and support staff. Studies show that as many as 60 percent of healthcare workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. There is an industry-wide staff-retention problem, and a quality art program is a tool that the provider can use to help address this very important issue.

Art’s Healing Powers

Hanging a piece of framed art on a wall can do much more than enhance the appearance of a room, some say.

Artwork has been proven to be beneficial to the overall healing process. Studies show that pleasant artwork hung in hospitals has been linked to reduced need for pain medication and shorter recovery time for open-heart surgery patients.

To recognize the importance of architectural and interior design during the healing process, Health Environment Art Services cites The Planetree Model. Planetree is a non-profit organization that works with healthcare systems to develop and implement patient-centric care.

According to Health Environment Art Services, an increasing amount of scientific data points to improved patient outcomes and satisfaction as a result of design factors that are home-like, barrier free, supportive of patient dignity and family participation in care. Facility designs utilizing Planetree’s principles provide life-enhancing, healing environments that not only benefit patients but hospital staff.

Hospitals that have fully implemented The Planetree Model have found increased patient and staff satisfaction, decreased employee turnover and an overall reduction of operating costs.

Current Trends: The Right Feel - Healthcare administrators prefer their facilities to look and feel more like a spa than a sterile institution.

Nowadays patients and their caretakers demand more of a hospitality environment that promotes health and healing.

Selecting Suitable Art.

Because patients come from all walks of life, selecting art for hospitals presents significant challenges.

The spectrum of hospital patients reaches into every culture and personality type. Therefore, the most suitable artwork would have qualities that appeal to a broad range of people.

As the response to visual art is often personal, powerful and reflective of the situation, artwork selection is critically important to a healthcare environment., helping to develop an art program for a healthcare facility, basing artwork selection primarily on information obtained through the hospital’s art committee, or other designated individuals. In addition, ArtOnline refers to recent research that recommends the following:

• Current and uplifting images reflective of the diversity of the hospital and the community it serves. • Images of nature that are clear and non-threatening • Artwork that complements the therapeutic goals of particular hospital units (for example, pediatrics, oncology, or cardiology)

When people are sick, they long to be surrounded by something familiar, something they can identify with. Nature is all around us, thus, viewing nature brings the patient back into familiar territory, quite opposite of a cold and sterile hospital being.

Nature is alive and reminds the patients of life. The colors of nature are so relaxing—the blues, greens, yellows. Nature photos are the most beneficial hospital art because the photos capture real life, real colors and real images.

In addition to the subject matter, the size of the art is something to keep in mind. Art on walls should be large, so patients can see them from their beds.

Finding The Right Hanging Place

Selecting appropriate art goes hand in hand with putting it in the right place in a healthcare facility.

There are basically two types of images service a healthcare setting particularly well. The first type is art that makes you feel calm.This artwork tends to have a soothing color palette, such as cool tones. This piece of art would work best in a healthcare waiting area. The viewer should be able to imagine themselves transported to another time, place, etc., so as not to think about their current problem at hand. The second type of art, would be more suited to the cancer/ children’s wing of a hospital or doctor’s office. This art ought to be sunny and bright, with warm colors. This type of art is designed to lift spirits and offer hope.

Children’s healthcare facilities, might seek artwork that has an interactive component to assist in engaging young patients during lengthy procedures or wait times. We also utilize enlarged colorful artwork by other children as it creates a familiar and non-threatening environment. Artwork can also have an educational component in these types of facilities. Sometimes, a department will be differentiated with a theme such as The Rainforest, so art that relates to that theme can engage patients in ways such as ‘find-it’ games and interesting accompanying text.

General adult healthcare facilities typically look for restful imagery, such as regionally familiar landscapes and interesting natural elements. Photography is a popular medium utilized.

When you work with a healthcare facility, you almost become an employee of the hospital, or a part of the team.

The art will be displayed—in common spaces, lobbies, patient rooms, nurses’ stations, or even a specialized gallery.

An up-to-date interior can go a long way in the overall appeal of the facility. Appropriate artwork will promote the hospital’s image of high-quality care not only for the body but also for the mind and spirit.

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