NICU Standard 27: Access to Nature and Other Positive Distractions

Views of nature shall be provided in the unit in at least one space that is accessible to all families and one space that is accessible to all staff. If direct physical access to the outdoors is not available, simulated access to nature shall be provided in at least one space that is accessible to all families and one space that is accessible to all staff. Other forms of positive distraction shall be provided for families in infant and family spaces, and for staff in staff spaces.

The provision of views via windows shall be guided by the recommendations outlined in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Healthcare16; IEQ Credit 8:1 Daylight and Views, except in cases where the provision of daylight and windows interferes with the recommendations provided elsewhere in this document.

Interpretation: Culturally appropriate positive distractions provide important psychological benefits to staff and families in the NICU. Looking out a window, viewing psychologically supportive art, or taking a stroll in a garden may help to reduce stress or increase productivity. When possible, windows should have views of nature environments. These environments might consist of trees, plants, human and animal activity, gardens, and landscapes. In urban settings, appropriate nature elements might include planters or water features. When such views are not possible, artwork with nature images or other nature simulations (e.g., video, virtual reality devices, and artificial representations) should be provided throughout the unit. Family and staff lounge spaces are ideal locations for views of nature and other positive distractions.

Provision should be made for direct access to nature and other positive distractions within the hospital complex. These nature environments may consist of outdoor spaces such as gardens or walking paths or indoor spaces such as greenhouses and atria.

Amenities within the nature environment might include water features, plant and animal life and solitary and group seating. Other positive distractions might include fitness centers and access to music.

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