story of BEDSCAPES is a personal one. A wise person once said that
life if not what happens to you; rather it's what you do with what
happens to you! And that's how this story begins.
I created BEDSCAPES from my own experiences
as a hospitalized patient and as a significant caregiver for my parents.
In my family's experience, the technical know how of the doctors was
first rate but the environments we received our care in were not helpful
for our healing and comfort.
These settings were stressful for us.
The surroundings were unpleasant - sterile, unfriendly and unfamiliar.
We totally lacked privacy. And we had no control of traffic in and
out of the room and the sounds all around us. It was clear to us that
the space we were in did not belong to us.
I later came to realize
that we were having an experience similar to what refugees go through
- of being a stranger in a strange land.
Both of my parents loved nature and loved
to travel and do nature photography. My dad won many awards for his
photographic work. But when they were hospitalized, they were separated
from the nature they loved so much and from the familiar things of
From these experiences, I decided to do
work that made a difference in the experiences of patients. Initially,
because of my behavioral science background, I intended to train physicians
in how to communicate better with their patients. As the work evolved,
I decided to create improvements in the bedside environments so that
patients would begin to feel a sense of "place" and of their own "space"
and have an environment that helped them to relax in.
I was fortunate in finding the work of
Roger Ulrich, PhD, which showed that patients with views of nature
had better health outcomes than those who looked out at brick walls.
I got in touch with Dr. Ulrich, who generously taught me how to choose
nature scenes that were "biophilic" i.e. likely to tap a restorative
response in people. I then found a way to get photomurals of these
scenes indelibly printed on fabric that could then be hung on a cubicle
curtain. I was again fortunate in being able to find a printing process
that created images that were both launderable and fire retardant.
Very fortunate! And thus, BEDSCAPES were born.
I introduced BEDSCAPES to the world at
the Symposium on Healthcare Design in 1996. Fortune struck again -
they won the "Best of Competition" in the Nightingale Awards and First
Prize in the Healthcare Design Competition. They are now in over 50
hospitals and nursing homes around the United States in a wide variety
of settings. They have already shown great clinical potential in several
scientific studies (see Research).
What I've observed as I've seen BEDSCAPES
used all over the United States, is that the benefits start within
seconds! People experience a relaxing effect; family members and staff
observe it. It's palpable! And the effect is created without using
My own vision is to create a "healing
cocoon" or comfort zone around every patient in every bed in every
healthcare setting in the world. Fortunately that vision is being
shared by many others - the natural childbirth movement, hospice,
At the December 2000 Symposium on Healthcare
Design, I chaired the Patient's Bedside Experience track. There was
considerable interest among the participating healthcare architects,
designers and facilities administrators in forming a virtual community
of people with a passion for improving these environments. We are
beginning to build that community now with the launch of the Healing
Bedside Environments Network.
The vision is also going forward with
BETH (Bedside Environments That Heal), a non-profit demonstration
project under the auspices of the Tides Center. It's first site is
the Bellevue Medical Center in New York City. Funded through the generosity
of Laurance and Richard Rockefeller and the United Hospital Fund,
BETH focuses on the wellness of patients and front-line staff. It
will help the staff improve their own respite areas and then help
them apply their learnings and insights to the improvement of their
patients' bedside settings. The project is also being generously supported
through the voluntary efforts of members of the architecture and design
Many current trends in healthcare seem
to be going in our direction. These include the growing interest in evidence-based design, the focus on the patient's and family's actual health care experience, an increasing recognition
of the mind/body connection,
and an increased willingness to address quality of life issues. Allies in this direction
now include the regulators, e.g. the Joint Commission on the Accreditation
of Healthcare Organizations.
I welcome you as an ally and invite you
to be in touch with me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
to help move this exciting agenda forward.