Pun fully intended here. The very best way of distracting anyone receiving care is through the power of sight. This is without question, most effectively achieved with an appropriate presence of visual art. A combination of environmental colour schemes (wall surface colours for example) and purposeful visual imagery placement is the ideal solution.
Some people will respond to (and indeed many will need) verbal/musical (sound) distraction and we rightly use this mechanism to support people receiving care in various scenarios/settings. However, many people struggle with such connections at a time when their emotional state is stressed through the “worry” of whatever they are entrusting the caregivers to do for them. Many situations in the care process will also leave people isolated and unable to have any direct continued verbal support or access to electronic audio stimuli which may or may not be desired (due to stronger individual preferences that are much harder, if not impossible to qualify) regardless.
The other senses are even harder to influence (touch, smell and taste) in care settings.
Provision of purposeful visual distraction, however is:
- Perpetually available
- A passive care influencer
- Common to basic natural human instincts – Biophilia
therefore, supporting people throughout the entire experience in a way that is much more likely to have positive outcomes.
Of course, it is just as important to point out that poorly considered general décor and image selections can have negative outcomes. In other words, not all images are created equally, despite often similar content/appearance to images that can have positive outcomes. Understanding how to identify that usually subtle, but significant difference, is crucial to the investment strategy for each and every care space.
Given the extraordinary effort we, as human beings go to, to explore visual feasts in day to day life, it seems equally extraordinary that in business we do not apply the same effort to provide the very best visual distractions possible. Our efforts to win and keep customers flowing through the door, to also give them the best experience possible whilst in our care are surely vital aspects to both business and basic human needs?
Did you know that the choice of imagery you place around your business can have a profound impact on the emotive state of your patients/customers? So much so in fact that you can alter the outcome of that patient visit considerably. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?
Just for a moment, stop and think about it.
Why do we travel to see things? Why do we bother putting windows in our homes, offices and other buildings if what we see doesn’t matter? Why do we take our children to the zoo? How do we distract a child in discomfort or sadness…. we divert their attention visually, which in turn, generates a different feeling that either diminishes the original feeling to. some degree or potentially replaces it altogether.
One of the most active and longer term researchers in this sphere, has been Roger S. Ulrich, who has written many articles into the connection between sight and emotive state of patients in particular. There are of course many other studies that demonstrate what we all know instinctively anyway, that being “what we see, makes us feel“. Understanding how to elicit the right feelings in a given scenario is key and therefor crucial to any business and the opportunity to harness the power of visual distraction effectively.
“a reduction in arousal or activation produces pleasurable feelings if an individual is experiencing stress or excessive arousal” (Berlyne, 1971)
For most people, the idea of losing their sight is the most consequential and fear indusing “sense” to lose. Everything we see, impacts how we feel and yet even in the most basic of care settings, we regularly present blank and more often than not, white spaces where patients wait for, are moved through to and are placed for their treatment. How do you think that care recipient is going to be feeling as your care team do whatever they need to to that person when faced with sterile blank white walls (maybe even with medical information charts adorning the space)?
It does not take much to alter that scenario and it only takes a little more on top of that, to alter that scenario so dramatically you could convert a highly worried (anxious) patient, to one even happy/content to be there. I’ve experienced that firsthand with a patient, so I know how true this can be. Giving people a view, the right view, allows positive distraction for the brain which can reduce pain, shorten perception of time and bring peace to the care recipient, reducing their “worry” and/or “immediate distress”.
Simply purchasing the most accessible and affordable images without purpose (just because the purchaser “likes” them for example), is a precarious act in itself. What visually pleases one person, may well put the fear of God into another. Think about it. A beautiful waterfall perhaps? Many would be invigorated by such a scene, but many would be terrified. Maybe this image is placed in a setting where a state of calm is the most desired emotive state of the patient/customer? An invigorating image is just not the right choice no matter how beautiful it is. Personal choice in imagery is more often than not, a mistake and one that at best will have little or no impact on the patient/customer and at worst, increase their fear factors, increasing their state of “worry”.
Colour – tone – brightness – content – shapes and much much more, will all contribute to the emotional impact any one image will have on the majority of people.
What you place, where you place it. These are the windows which people in your setting look into and will therefor impact how they feel: before, during and after any treatment you are providing.
At Virtual Vistas, it is our mission to match the right imagery to the space and purpose for which it is needed.
“Easing the mind of people in care settings”
The psychology of imagery “how it can impact the emotive state of people” especially when in care settings, can be a complex matter that is more often than not, overlooked as a low priority investment. Understanding how colour, content, tone and contrast amongst many other factors, will impact the emotions of any viewer, can provide a truly unique service to patients when selecting imagery in care. Just as vital is the placement of imagery chosen. We are not merely trying to create an aesthetically pleasing space, but also trying to use the opportunity to impact the emotional state of the viewers in specific ways so what goes where is critical to……
“Easing the mind of people in care settings”
The image created here, for example, will have three key emotive influencers (of course there are many but there are three here that are much stronger than others):
Contact me to find out how we can work with you to ease the mind a people in your care setting simply by making the right image choices for display in the right places within your business.
It’s only in recent times (relatively) that the care industry has taken to putting art into the building fabrics’ “soft furnishings”. The question for each business, is why? What is the purpose of the art, how much should you spend on it and quite frankly (let’s be honest about this, we are in business so it’s only fair to ask the question):
Is there a Return On Investment for art in health?
The answer to this is much more about the potential return on investment. Many (or even most) care settings will already have visual art of some kind within their setting, and so it is possible, even likely they are not getting the full potential from their particular selection.
Visual art in care, CAN have a profound and direct impact on both the financial position and reputation, of any care setting business including (but definitely not limited to):
- Improved patient experience
- anxiety reduction properties
- perception of time shortening during treatments
- increased sense of calm
- lower consumption of pain medication
- shorter bed stays
- Improved staff experience and morale
- Improved business market share (through referrals and repeat business)
The return of any investment in art is directly linked to the understanding of “what” art should be invested in to maximise the potential impact for each unique situation. Therefor investing in the art “advice” is as crucial as the physical art purchase itself.
Is your care setting (business) getting the best Return On Investment with regards to visual art?
When we consider the varying needs, and therefor the multitude of solutions required for visual art in care, having choice, is of paramount importance. Every need will have various solutions. It’s definitely not a “one size fits all” conversation.
Digital art has its place, and when used to solve the right problem, its potential is nothing less than amazing. Take the work of teamLab as an example of the potential. The idea of digital light being responsive, generates an array of possibilities and benefits. In the example shown on the video, the light trails respond to human presence and actions, enabling the viewer to engage and feel immersed in the experience.
In care settings, we look to engage people with visual distractions for varying purposes. Each purpose is essentially solving a problem. One such problem (and quite frankly often the primary problem) is anxiety. Providing a means to feel closer to nature is key to reducing anxiety and the interactive nature of digital technology like this, will, where appropriate, take things to the next level in reducing patient anxiety.
Art in Care Settings may be missing the mark. Do you know how?
Who is the art you have on display in your care setting business, designed to please? Does it serve a purpose beyond basic viewing pleasure?
It is now more common, widely accepted and acknowledged, that visual art in care settings, is beneficial to the care setting business on many levels. Quite often such furnishings are placed with a view to lifting the overall ambiance of the setting. The choice of imagery on display, can be personal and those choices, made with good intentions such as by patient inclusion, or staff voting, the personal choice of a key player in the business, either an owner, Manager or outside investor. When those decisions are made, the selection is seen to be one where the images are “aesthetically” pleasing. The choices are implemented and form part of the ambiance, or as per the French origins of the word, the surroundings.
The true meaning of the word aesthetic, however, should serve as a hint to best practices. It is a word often taken or used lightly and with little regard for what it really means. Its origins are from the Greek word “aisthanomai” and a simply way to understand it is:
- I feel
- I sense
- I perceive
The science of aesthetics is concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. Emotions of course, are a physical state, created by our thoughts or our perceptions.
The aesthetics of imagery are more crucial in care settings than just about anywhere else in life. Understanding, that when a person in care is presented with a view of an image, that they will Feel, Sense and Perceive, means we should take the greatest of care in the content of each and every opportunity (image) we present in our care settings.
The compound effect of a series of images, carefully chosen with purpose, to achieve maximum potential to reduce anxiety, increase calm or stimulate a state of happiness for the particular patient audience, cannot and should not be underestimated.