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Improve the environment of care, in ways big and small

February 9, 2016
by Rebecca Flood
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Building or updating an addiction recovery treatment center that feels safe, nurturing, healing and beautiful—no matter the budget—does not need to be difficult or costly. It takes vision, heart and faith, and begins with a total quality management philosophy, a philosophy that focuses on moments of truth. These moments start the minute you speak to a potential patient, family member, or therapist, the moment someone first walks through your doors. An environment of care that allows all who enter to feel cared about and important is felt in the way people speak to each other, and in the sensory elements that they perceive around them.

After all, what do most patients in addiction recovery really want and need? They want peace, simplicity, and a sense of well-being; they want a place where they feel cared for and important. They want to feel safe, valuable, beautiful, empowered and worthy of investment. They need to see the higher vision of themselves reflected in their surroundings and in systems and objects that are working, clean, maintained, beautiful and simple. Creating subliminal messages that whisper, “I’m cared about. This place is being cared for. This is how we’re going to take care of you, or your loved one,” accomplish that.

It can be a pot of pansies, or large beautiful shrubbery. It can be simple, or it can be extravagant, but it has to say that there’s life here and there’s hope here. Small but noticeable touches, such as cutting the lawn, filling dried-up ponds and planters, and replacing light bulbs, say, “Someone is tending to this place.” Tossing worn or stained pillows, bedding, rugs, or tablecloths sends the message, “I’m worth more.” Replacing fake plants and flowers with real flower beds and plants that are simple to maintain brings vitality, oxygen, and an energy of growth and renewal. Refinishing an old piece of furniture, pulling out stored items for repair, polishing dedication plaques and signs, or cleaning water stains uplift and beautify, and symbolize the core beauty in everyone.

One of the mantras we focus on is “making sure your outsides and your insides match.” When patients are surrounded by beauty, it makes them feel they’re worthy of beauty, and they then can start to see themselves as beautiful. When they believe that they’re beautiful, they know that they’re worth the investment of the time and energy that it’s going to take to heal and truly get well.

Subtle nuances, such as scents filtering through the environment, have impact. “Studies have shown that essential oils have an effect on brainwaves and can also alter behavior. Used professionally and safely, aromatherapy can be of great benefit as an adjunct to conventional medicine, or used simply as an alternative.” Igniting the senses is a powerful tool that triggers the subconscious. Whether listening to the tranquil sound of a waterfall because your space has a waterfall, or because that’s the CD that plays as somebody enters your property, walking to the sound of water becomes a healing force.




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Rebecca Flood

President and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment

Rebecca Flood is president and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment. She previously served as CEO...

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