The number of today’s health care facilities that are focusing on health and well-being rather than just sickness and disease is rapidly increasing. With an emphasis on healing, stress relief, access to nature, and beauty as part of an overall philosophy of wellness, these organizations are discovering what has been known for many years—nature heals. Overwhelming evidence and emerging research on natural elements and sustainability shows that access to nature influences the health outcomes and sense of well-being for patients as well as health care providers. One study that focused on “green roofs” found that participants who had close access to wilder green roofs over time and had the ability to watch them change through the seasons experienced the following:
- an improved sense of calm
- better concentration
- improved creativity for problem-solving
- heightened sense of hope
- a respite from fatigue of concrete, steel, and glass in the city
- improved attentional concentration
- reduced stress
- improved positive affect
- improved emotional well-being
Landscapes that encouraged exploration, mystery, fascination, and views increased the likelihood of positive health outcomes. In addition, landscapes that referenced the local ecosystems and natural elements, reflected the rhythm and cycles of nature, engaged many senses (such as sight, color, touch, and sound) and featured habitat for butterflies, birds, and even bees helped patients address the cycle of live and provided distractions from their illness.
Loder, A., & Smith, J. (2013). Designing access to nature. Landscape Architecture for Healthcare Communities, Awards Edition, December 2013, 12–17.