” Don’t count the things you do. Do the things that count”. Those were the golden words of an American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar (of blessed memory). Healthcare is all encompassing. It goes beyond surgery and medications. There are simple ways of enhancing the healing process. There are everyday powers and skills at our disposal with which we could deliver the ‘healing touch’. These are what I am about to discuss.
1. The power of Kindness
A kind, compassionate bedside manner and clinical consultation skills can work wonders. Outcomes to mention a few include reduced pain, reduced blood pressure, reduced anxiety, improved wound healing, shorter hospital stay etc. (Healing powers of kindness, Huffpost healthy living 11/16/2014).We need to dump into the thrash-bin the arrogance, rude and ‘larger than life attitude’ that is commonplace in the present day healthcare delivery and focus on simple acts that heal. Let us be nice and reassuring.
2. The power of Colors
“Color is an influence on everything. It seeps into our consciousness whether we know it or not. The psychology of color is especially connected to the healing process. It is a known fact that our state of mind directly affects our physical body. Color can accelerate healing, lift spirits and calm nerves.” (Sylva O Brien, Psychology of Color in healthcare environment.) The color green has been connected with stress relief, faster recovery, improved wound healing etc. That’s why OR is painted in hues of green and we also wear green scrubs etc. The color blue is connected with lower heart rate,calmness, safety etc. The color pink is connected with sedation. Gentle hue of yellow is connected with mental stimulation. So you need to pay attention to the colors you paint your ward, the bedding, the wares even the colors of your outfit. They have got silent but potent powers.
3. The power of music
Music, they say, is food to the soul. There is strong connection between music ,mood and emotions. Research has also shown there is link between music and heart rate. Music can relieve pain, reduce anxiety, reduce depression, improve mental disorders. Lyrics that communicate hope, strength, virtues etc. may help individuals going through mental breakdown. You need to research more on power of music. While I am not saying blare sounds on your ward, I am suggesting you could advise your patients to come with their own headphones and prescribe music.
4. The Power of Art
Don’t just hang anything on your wall. Art has the natural power to communicate beauty and inspiration. There is need to mind the choice of carvings and wall painting you hang on the wall in your wards. It has been claimed that some imagery inspire hope, alleviate pain, improve the immune system, reduce stress ,release positive emotions etc. while others do the contrary. So choose carefully.
5. The power of your look
There is a subtle way the way we look affect the healing process. The best is to look simple, professional . Wear wrinkle free outfits. Choose your colors carefully. The ‘white coat hypertension ‘ theory has made a lot of hospitals switch from white coat to scrubs. Be very neat and well groomed. NHS Look book made some recommendations about color of tops and pants for their workers excluding the specialist. The standards are great if you can adopt the same. Navy blue, Khaki and black pants are very good and professional. White and blue top are very acceptable. white,green and blue scrubs are cool to wear as well. Scrubs with flowery prints are especially good for pediatrics and labor wards.
6. The power of Scent
Ever heard about the ancient healing practice of aromatherapy? The scent of oils from Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Cinnamon ,Peppermint are said to have great healing powers. Say Bye to strong smell of Disinfectants. Choose sanitizers with little or no odors. Invest in diffusers. A note of warning, confirm respiratory conditions and allergies before putting diffusers in a patient’s room or a ward.
My list is endless. But you should try to spice up your practice with this tip. You will thank me for it. This should be a good read for you if you are an interior designer and a medical practitioner. Thank you for reading.
The author, Dr Oluwaseun Idowu is a Diving & Hyperbaric doctor. He trained as a doctor at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
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