Colour healing

Table of Contents

An attractive room design can create a healing ambience in hospitals and accelerate the recovery of patients. It also lowers the costs of health care.

The colour white is omnipresent in interior design, whether in shops, public authorities, offices or hospitals. Those who paint walls and ceilings white cannot actually do anything wrong, because white is neutral. At any rate, this is a widely held opinion. Professional colour designers think differently and are supported by science. A study conducted by the University of Twente in 2008 found that people’s reaction to the achromatic colour white is anything but neutral. And she is not alone.

A key role is played by the spatial ambience in which patients stay and are treated. The central measure to meet the need for well-being is the material and colour design. With the help of colour, material and light, designers can create a pleasant and healing atmosphere.

Especially the patient rooms should be optimistic, friendly and comfortable in order to counteract feelings of anxiety or insomnia. Doctors and psychologists agree on this. Because bedridden patients most of all are looking for support in the main field of vision of the ceiling, it should be stimulating and colourful.

Loosening impression on the maternity ward

A very special part of a hospital is the maternity ward. Here intimacy and familiarity are in the foreground, the atmosphere in these rooms should resemble a well-kept, homely hotel. Interviews with mothers about the time of labour and birth led to the conviction that the colours should not have a blocking effect. It must be relaxing and relaxing. The corridors of the maternity ward should differ in colour from the other areas of a hospital. In this way, the joyful event of a birth can also be visually expressed.

Prevent eye fatigue

Industrial psychology is of great importance in operating theatres, where the surgeons are also visually challenged. In order not to fatigue the doctor’s eyes during an operation, it makes sense to keep differences in luminance to a minimum. The colour tones chosen should neutralise the reddish wound field.

Never cold and unapproachable

What is important in all this is that a hospital must never appear cold, distant and inaccessible. This would increase the health imbalance in which the patient finds himself. A color conception must have thus the goal of providing for a visual and thus also psychological balance, in addition, for alternation and stimulation.

An environment with too many, too strong and indiscriminate shades can irritate the patient and make him doubt the professional competence of the staff. Such an ambience creates feelings of stress. On the other hand, too much monotony can lead to physical and psychological misregulation. It is created in rooms with shadowless brightness and low-tension colouring, which is primarily based on the non-coloured colours white and black. This is why nowadays hospitals should work much more with colourful colours in order to create a feeling of balance, suspension and well-being.

The staff also benefits

The users must always be at the centre of the design. This includes not only the patients but also the staff. An attractive ambience that also takes into account the needs of doctors and nurses ensures that they are more motivated and concentrated. Symptoms of fatigue occur less frequently. If the recovery process of patients is accelerated and employees are more committed and motivated to their tasks, the costs of health care also decrease. At the same time, the cost of attractive design using materials and colors is manageable. This combination is also economically interesting. This cannot be achieved with a monotonous white.

Waiting room Health Centre Kitzbühl, Austria

Author: Martin Tanner
Published in: KOMPASS, January 2017