An interesting Cornell study published in the journal Health Environments Research and Design suggests that the secret to a happier, healthier nurse lies in having greater access to natural light sources.
Rana Zadeh, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis found that “nurses who had access to natural light enjoyed significantly lower blood pressure, communicated more often with their colleagues, laughed more and served their patients in better moods than nurses who settled for large doses of artificial light.”
Having a natural light source had an impact on levels of alertness, and also impacted mood restoration. “The increase in positive sociability, as measured by the occurrence of frequent laughter, was … significant,” noted Zadeh.
This is significant for Australian hospitals, where you will still find many tea rooms, wards and departments buried deep inside the bowels of the structure, where one can only speculate on what the weather is doing outside.
The study showed that levels of alertness in nurses, who already have demanding roles and work long shifts during non-standardised hours, are directly linked to staff and patient safety. By improving and maximising levels of natural daylight and improving upon current designs, there is an opportunity to improve safety and allow staff to manage tiredness, stay in a better moods and stay alert.
“Nurses save lives and deal with complications every day. It can be a very intense and stressful work environment, which is why humor and a good mood are integral to the nursing profession,” Zadeh said. “As a nurse, it’s an art to keep your smile – which helps ensure an excellent connection to patients. A smart and affordable way to bring positive mood – and laughter – into the workplace, is designing the right workspace for it.”
Recommendations were made that clinical workspace design should include access to natural daylight, and a nice view of the outside world.
“The physical environment in which the caregivers work on critical tasks should be designed to support a high-performing and healthy clinical staff,” she said “ improving the physiological and psychological wellbeing of healthcare staff, by designing the right workspace, can directly benefit the organization’s outcomes”.