A Room with A View: Physical Environments and Healing

By Betsy Todd, clinical editor, MPH, RN, CIC

Illustration by Janet Hamlin for AJN. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Janet Hamlin for AJN. All rights reserved.

Computers, alarms, automated drug dispensing, complex medical protocols—the ways in which we provide care have changed a lot over the past 30 years. Has forced multitasking made us forget that, buried beneath the printouts and data, there is a human being in need of support?

In this month’s AJN, author Joy Washburn shares the story of David, a man with advanced Parkinson’s disease whose medical condition results in his transfer from a cheerful rehab setting to a long-term care bed in the same facility. While his old room in rehab overlooked gardens and a children’s play area, the new room faces a parking lot. To make matters worse, no one seems to have prepared David for the move, and many nurses erroneously assume that his advanced physical disability means that he is also cognitively impaired.  

David’s story raises questions for all of us to consider. What kind of environment provides hope and encouragement? Is beauty essential to healing? What kind of room would you want to spend your days in, especially if you couldn’t walk unassisted and couldn’t communicate easily with others?

Joy Washburn reminds us that “grief isn’t limited to situations of death or dying.” Read about the dramatic episode that made David’s sense of loss and hopelessness starkly clear in A Room with a View,” this month’s Reflections column.

About the Author:

Clinical editor, American Journal of Nursing (AJN), and epidemiologist

One Comment

  1. amygetter April 13, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Thank you, Joy, for providing such a moving reminder of the many losses suffered for all who are marginalized by chronic, debilitating diseases. Though nursing staff may not be able to change someone’s situation, we are able to provide compassionate communication.

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