Fish tanks and fresh paint help improve mood in ED

Another strategy for improving patient satisfaction in the ED at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock is the "calming effect," which aims to create an environment that is less stressful for the patient.

The appearance of the ED can have an important effect in creating a calm environment for patients and helping them cope better with their injuries and illnesses, not to mention any delays and other difficulties they encounter in the ED, says Glenn H. Raup, RN, MSN, director of the ED. To achieve a better environment, cleanliness in the patient waiting area was deemed a top priority, along with sufficient reading materials.

UAMS also repainted the ED with soft colors and installed two fish tanks: one in the patient waiting area and one at the nurses’ station.

The tank in the patient area is 600 gallons, a huge freshwater aquarium that Raup says patients and staff alike find to be beautiful and relaxing. The initial cost of the setup for both tanks, several thousand dollars, was covered by a donation from the hospital’s auxiliary. The ED contracted for an outside company to maintain the tank at a cost of about $100 per month. He notes that large but a more typically sized aquarium of 100 gallons, the size in the staff area, can be established for $500 to $1,000.

Raup says it is important to include staff in any efforts to improve the ED environment. "Their satisfaction with their work will affect how they interact with each other and also with patients," he adds. "Their morale is a big part of a patient’s experience."