St.Joseph Hospital is a member of Planetree, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving as a catalyst in the development and implementation of new models of health care that focus on healing and nurturing body, mind and spirit. These models integrate human caring with the best of scientific medicine and complementary healing traditions. Since its establishment in 1978 as a nonprofit organization, Planetree has continued to be a pioneer in personalizing and demystifying the health care experience for patients and their families. Founded by a patient, the Planetree Model is committed to enhancing health care from the patient’s perspective. It empowers patients and families through information and education and encourages “healing partnerships” with caregivers to support active participation. Through organizational transformation, the Planetree Model creates healing environments in which patients can be active participants and caregivers are enabled to thrive.
Planetree believes that all individuals are caregivers and have the ability to influence the experience of patients and their families. Our focus is on human beings caring for other human beings. This includes providing personalized care for patients and their families as well as creating organizational cultures which support and nurture staff.
Social support is vital to good health. Planetree encourages involvement of family and friends whenever possible, offering unrestricted visiting, including in the ICU and ER, and provides the option of family presence during invasive procedures and resuscitation. The Care Partner Program promotes a heightened level of family participation while patients are hospitalized and at home after discharge. Families are encouraged to stay overnight whenever possible.
Illness is seen as an educational and potentially transformational opportunity. An open chart policy encourages patients to read their medical records and write in the Patient’s Progress Notes. A Self-Medication Program enables patients to keep medications at the bedside. Collaborative care conferences, patient pathways, and a variety of educational resources provide patients with information and skills to actively participate in their care. Patient and family libraries are available throughout the hospital and Planetree Health Resource Centers, are open to the community and offer health and medical information on a wide range of topics including complementary therapies.
The physical environment is vital to healing. Each facility is home-like and noninstitutional, valuing humans, not just technology. By removing architectural barriers, the design encourages patient and family involvement. An awareness of the symbolic/semiotic messages communicated by the design is an essential part of planning. Spaces are provided for both solitude and social activities, including libraries, kitchens, lounges, activity rooms, chapels, gardens and overnight accommodation for families.
Nutrition is integral to healing, essential not only for good health but also as a source of pleasure, comfort and familiarity. Health care facilities become role models for delicious, healthy eating, with kitchens available throughout the facility to encourage families to bring the patient’s favorite food from home or prepare meals for themselves. Volunteers bake breads, muffins and cookies to provide “aromatherapy” and to create a nurturing environment.
Music, storytellers, clowns and funny movies create an atmosphere of serenity and playfulness in the Planetree Model. Artwork in patient rooms, treatment areas and on art carts add to the ambiance. Art carts enable patients to select the artwork of their choice. Volunteers work with patients who would like to create their own art, while artists, musicians, poets and storytellers from the local community help to expand the boundaries of the health care facility.
Planetree recognizes the vital role of spirituality in healing the whole person. Supporting patients, families and staff in connecting with their own inner resources enhances the healing environment. Chapels, gardens, labyrinths and meditation rooms provide opportunities for reflection and prayer. Chaplains are seen as vital members of the health care team.
Touch is an essential way of communicating caring often omitted from the clinical setting. Massage and reiki are available for patients, families and staff. Training programs for volunteers to teach hand and foot rubs and internship programs for massage therapists keep costs minimal. Nurses, doctors and other staff find massage, even a brief neck and shoulder rub, to be a useful way to deal with stress.
To meet growing consumer demand for complementary therapies, Planetree affiliates have instituted heart disease reversal programs, guided imagery, therapeutic touch, acupuncture, Tai Chi and yoga. Aromatherapy’s calming effect on agitated patients is useful during labor and MRIs. Pet therapy can elevate mood, lower blood pressure and enhance social interaction.
Working with schools, senior citizen centers, churches and other community partners, hospitals are redefining health care to include the health and wellness of the larger community. Choosing environmentally friendly cleaning products and sponsoring “kid’s camps,” walking clubs and community gardens, expands the role of hospitals from illness to wellness.Additional information is available at www.planetree.org.