Just a few months back Selfridges installed an in-store ‘silence room’, a jostle free zone where shouting and mobile phones are strictly off limits, in an effort to help people relax and rejuvenate. Now, respected artist and producer, Brian Eno, who has spent decades guiding some of the biggest names in the music business, has designed an ambient ‘healing room’ for a hospital in Hove so that patients can recuperate to a backdrop of soothing light and sound.
Eno’s project only goes to emphasise further our need for calm, contemplative spaces in an ever frenetic world. In health care environments, where people are sick and often distressed, this need is perhaps all the more vital.
Calm is the antidote to the stresses and strains we can all feel in today’s hectic society. Quiet spaces support us to reconnect to that stillness at the centre of our being when we let go of life as a human ‘doing’, and focus on just ‘being’ who we truly are, even if just for a moment.
In our highly connected world, we are rarely offered space to tune into our inner self. Noise is something we have learnt to tolerate … quiet is something that we have not yet learnt to respect.
In a hospital environment, quiet rooms provide a cocoon for people who want to escape the stresses and strains of everyday hospital life. They provide a way of absorbing patients, staff and visitors and encouraging them to take time out in a quiet peaceful space to meditate, pray or simply think and ‘take stock’.
There is also increasing evidence that offering a quiet room and the use of art and music within healthcare settings can actually help people feel more in control of their pain and less disabled by their condition. As reported recently in ‘The Independent’, Brian Eno’s project was thought to be directly inspired by Florence Nightingale’s observation that “variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients have a powerful effect and are an actual means of recovery.” See also BBC Radio 4’s feature.
More and more, healthcare providers are acknowledging that patient care needs to be all embracing, that the need of spiritual care is as great as that for physical nursing. This is something that the Marie Curie Cancer Care Hospice in Newcastle recognised when it commissioned its ‘Reflection Room’, a haven of tranquillity for patients, staff and relatives, somewhere that respected all faiths and none, somewhere that was calming and soothing, as well as uplifting, a sanctuary and place of solace for people often faced with the most difficult time of their lives.
* Main mage: Photography by IBI Nightingale