Course Outline for Optimal Healing Environments

Week 1

Lesson 1- The Power of Design—Healthy Buildings, Healthy Communities

Today's health-care leaders face myriad challenges in providing safe, effective, high-quality care for patients while creating a work environment that supports the health and well-being of staff. The design of their facilities plays a critical role in these two vital aspects of care. The goal of this course is to examine design elements that support healing environments, including evidence-based design (EBD), "green" practices, sustainability, physical security, cultural responsiveness, building design, furnishings, and wayfinding in health-care facilities.

Lesson 2- Creating Healing Relationships

A healing relationship involves two major elements: a relationship with the self (intrapersonal relationship) and relationships with others (interpersonal relationships). Each is critical to creating a healing environment for an organization's staff and clients. Healing relationships support the social, spiritual, psychological, physical, and behavioral components of people and the organization. These relationships stimulate the healing abilities inherent in patients/clients, employees, and families. Optimal healing environments support and enhance the intentions, health behaviors, treatments, and buildings of all who share the space. The goal of this course is to describe the elements of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships that support healing, examine components of the C.A.R.I.N.G. model of self-care, explore the role of balance and thriving in healing relationships, describe the dimensions and characteristics of a healing presence, and explore the principles of relationship-centered care (RCC).

Week 2

Lesson 3- Color and Health – Exploring the Connection

The use of color in healing has a long history. A fundamental aspect of environmental design, color has also been linked to physical, psychological, and social reactions in all of its uses. Color's characteristics can influence how it is used and what effects it might produce. The goal of this course is to explore the history of color and healing; examine the characteristics of color; and review color systems, the healing benefits and impact of color, types of color therapy, and guidelines for using color in healing environments.

Lesson 4- Light, Health, and Healing

Light has been a part of all life since the beginning of time. It plays a critical role in the health and well-being of every living thing on the planet. As humans have evolved, they have often moved away from the natural light of their ancestors and have increasingly been exposed to artificial forms of light. The effects on their health have been profound. As we increasingly focus on improving the design of health-care environments, it is only natural to examine the role of light in those environments. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the characteristics of light, compare and contrast the types of light, examine the role of light in sight and our overall health, examine circadian rhythms, explore the therapeutic benefits of light, and describe how to incorporate light into healing environments.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Sound and Art: Using The Ears and Eyes to Heal

Music and art have tremendous healing powers. Creative expression offers patients and staff the ability to heal on multiple levels. Understanding of the intricate relationship between stress and the health of our body, mind, and spirit continues to grow, and we have discovered that healing therapies which incorporate art and music can actually change a person's physiology. They connect individuals and communities, as well. The goal of this course is to examine the role of art and music in health, explore the role of music and music therapy in healing, discuss the effects of art and art therapy on health, and describe how music and art can be incorporated effectively into healing environments.

Lesson 6- Nature and Healing—The Power of Connection

Walking barefoot on the grass, listening to the ocean or the rush of a river, hearing the sounds of baby birds chirping in the spring, smelling the desert after a summer thunderstorm, or watching the silence of a winter snowfall. These sensory experiences can help us feel peaceful, awe-struck, humbled, exhilarated, and connected to the grander world beyond ourselves. The use of natural elements to heal or to support well-being is as old as human history, but it fell out of favor in the health-care profession for many decades. Now, the realization of the power of nature to heal is undergoing a tremendous resurgence and is providing additional therapies and tools for health care providers to help support the well-being and healing among patients, clients, staff, and community members. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the effects of nature on health and well-being. The models and philosophies that influence environmental design, the impact of gardens on health and well-being, the elements of healing gardens, and the varieties of healing gardens will be examined.

Week 4

Lesson 7- The Air We Breathe—How Air Quality Affects Health and Well-Being

The quality of the air we breathe is essential to our overall well-being. Contaminants in our external air, as well as the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces, play a role in many diseases. In high enough concentrations, these contaminants can be fatal. Creating optimal healing environments requires close attention to air quality, temperature, humidity, and odors. The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the components of external and indoor air pollution, describe their effects on human health, examine the impact of temperature, humidity, and odors on health, and identify methods of reducing or eliminating external and indoor air pollution, especially in health-care environments.

Lesson 8- How Safe Is Your Water?

According to the World Health Organization, (WHO) (2008), access to safe water is essential to health and a basic human right. Yet globally, unsafe water causes millions of deaths from diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition, and drowning. The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world, but national statistics do not tell individuals about the quality and safety of the water coming out of their own taps. In addition, more and more reports are surfacing about contaminants in the U.S. water supply. Health-care professionals play an important role in preventing water-borne illness and in educating the public about potential health risks related to exposure to microbial and chemical contaminants in drinking water. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the scope of the issue of water safety, types of contaminants found in public drinking water, water-related diseases, guidelines for water safety, and the information health-care providers need to know to effectively educate the public about their water and their health.

Week 5 - Lesson 9- Our Rewired Brains—Technology and Health

Technology is an important and beneficial part of modern life. It can save us time, help us work more efficiently and effectively, and support personal and global changes. Yet many individuals never fully disconnect from their technological devices, and social, physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties can occur as a result.  Called "technostress," this condition is often related to multitasking and can lead to loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and depression. Yet there are many ways to manage technostress and learn to use technology wisely. The goal of this course is to review the use of technology in modern life, define technostress and technosis, examine the relationship between technology and multitasking, identify health impacts of technology, and describe methods of managing technostress.

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‘I will be sharing this information with the medical staff I work with. We will look at our office environment to see where we could add more healing help.’

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