Linda Porter Bishop

What are Restorative Environments?

In a NY Times article, “What Patients Prefer to Know,” Denise Grady writes about the wide range in the levels of information patients request. One study found as few as 20% of breast cancer patients correctly knew the grade of their cancer; a critical piece of knowledge when the patient needs to adhere to strict medication protocols for successful outcomes. Other patients noted they didn’t want to know much because they were going to maximize their personal fight regardless. And another study found the level of perceived compassion on the part of their physician delivering the diagnosis could impact the patient’s attitude toward their disease and their outcome.

I am interested in knowing more about what patients prefer to know their disease. I think I would want to know everything. But, as an interior designer, I’m also interested in where patients prefer to be when they receive the news. And just as importantly to me, what is the environment one needs immediately afterwards?

Where does one go to think about what they’ve just heard?

To think this through, to wrap your mind around it, to try to start to understand that every single piece of your life, as you knew and loved it just a few minutes earlier, has totally and forever changed?

For over twenty years, I’ve specialized in designing interior spaces for people when they are most vulnerable. During that time, I’ve had projects around the world and the opportunity to work with Healthcare decision makers in planning their new hospitals. I’ve led Visioning Sessions where I’ve asked these users to imagine the special place they would go when they receive a life-changing diagnosis; because I want to create those spaces in their project. And everywhere I’ve worked, regardless of culture, gender, educational level, or profession, everyone always describes a place that includes nature.

Here’s a few I remember: a favorite green at their neighborhood golf course, a favorite fishing spot, a walk on the beach, and one den with their favorite comfortable chair in front of the fireplace and with a view to their garden.

I’ve come to know all these are Restorative Environments. In the coming posts, I’ll be sharing more about restorative environments and why they are so important to each of us in our daily lives.


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