As director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center Naomi Sachs follows developments with Healing Gardens. Recently she answered a few questions:
What are some new trends you see with Landscape Gardening used in HealthCare?
The key trend is an acceptance that Healing Landscapes make financial sense. Hospital Administrators understand that to creating special gardens for patients and also staff helps the bottom line.
Hospital Administrators can see that creating a holistic healing environment is what their clients want. Many people have a sense that strict Western Medicine just isn’t cutting it; not by itself. Complimentary approaches are gaining wide acceptance.
Interestingly, a novel, but strong selling points for healing gardens is that they help hospitals attract and keep nurses. There is a serious nursing shortage in North America. Roger Ulrich has reported on studies showing reduced staff turnover in hospitals with healing gardens.
It is important to understand that Healing Gardens are not just for the patients, but also for visitors and staff. They can provide someplace to go; a refuge. This can help reduce stress by allowing an escape from the clinical environment.
What percent of hospitals in North America have true Healing Gardens (as opposed to conventional landscaping)?
The numbers are clearly growing; most hospitals are looking at adding them. My best guess is that between 5 and 10% of hospitals currently have bonafide Healing Gardens. This is an exciting and rapidly growing field. At this time there is no National organization for Healing Gardens and no formal certification process; but I expect that to change soon.
What is happening in countries outside of North America with Healing Gardens?
I’m aware of projects in England, Sweden and Germany. Clearly there is a global reach to this movement. My best sense is that simply because of our size, that America is where most activity is at the moment.
Is there any new Evidence-based Design Research on Healing Gardens that you can tell us about?
New evidence-based design is coming out every week – I can’t even keep up! While I try to list key articles on my website and blog, some other great resources for information are:
- The ASLA Therapeutic Landscapes Research Initiative – a compendium of current research on the health benefits of therapeutic landscapes. They also have a blog: http://therapeuticlandscapes.blogspot.com/.
- Research Design Connections
- EDRA – the Environmental Design Research Association
- HERD Journal
Naomi Sachs, ASLA is the Founder and Executive Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center. She is also the Principal at Naomi Sachs Design (design and consulting for therapeutic landscapes) based in Beacon, NY