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“Education breeds confidence, confidence breeds hope, hope breeds peace.”



  • Discuss how to create a caring and healing physical environment

  • Find out how to foster a caring and healing environment through staff interactions

  • Examine an effective caring model

  • Explore caring theory

In any clinical setting, the healthcare environment can either create or mitigate stress. A healthcare environment that is caring and healing does the latter—decreasing stress and creating a supportive space for healing by inducing calm and serenity and inhibiting agitation and aggression (Sakallaris, MacAllister, Voss, Smith, & Jonas, 2015).

Medical facilities have discovered the benefits of a caring and healing environment to promote physical healing as well as mental health. Indeed, research shows that a caring-healing environment has a positive impact in both physical and psychological recovery outcomes (Gouin, Kiecolt-Glaser, Malarkey, & Glaser, 2007).

The healthcare environment includes the physical layout and design of a patient’s room, hallways, and unit, and the facility as a whole. But it also includes the staff (Keegan, 1994; Kreitzer, 2015). That is, the healthcare environment isn’t just about the facility; it’s about every interaction between staff and patients inside the facility. Indeed, these interactions play the biggest role in fostering a caring-healing environment. Although the physical healthcare environment enhances healing, it is the spirit and presence of the healthcare staff that is most vital.

It’s not just nurses who contribute to a caring-healing environment. Every member of the healthcare team who interacts with a patient plays a role, including doctors, admission clerks, transport staff, dietary staff, housekeeping staff, administrative staff, and the business office staff (Foss Durant, McDermott, Kinney, & Triner, 2015). Environments that are truly healing and caring are created when interpersonal relationships between caregivers and those they serve are built on mutual respect and a shared commitment to holistic healing (Felgen, 2003).


Nature themes are a key element of caring-healing environments. Environments with views of or access to nature areas such as gardens and fountains are shown to improve cohesion of mind, body, and spirit (Sakallaris et al., 2015). Indeed, research by Ulrich (1984) demonstrated that placing post-surgery patients in a room with a window overlooking a pleasant nature scene resulted in shorter hospital stays and improved attitudes, mood, and behavior. Patients in these rooms also required fewer prescribed analgesics than those without a view. In areas without access to or views of nature, nature-based artwork can help create a calming and restorative space. So too can calming messages—for example, posters with words like “Peace” and “Hope.”


Patients consider a healthcare environment to be “healing” when they have positive relationships with caregivers; when care attends to the body, emotions, mind, and spirit; when they have a relationship with their caregiver; and when they are actively involved in decisions regarding their ...

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