Aspect, View and Sunlight Matters of First Importance to the Sick

Aspect, View and Sunlight Matters of First Importance to the Sick

A very high authority in hospital construction has said that people do not enough consider the difference between wards and dormitories in planning their buildings. But I go farther, and say, that healthy people never remember the difference between bed-rooms and sick-rooms, in making arrangements for the sick. To a sleeper in health it does not signify what the view is from his bed. He ought never to be in it excepting when asleep, and at night. Aspect does not very much signify either (provided the sun reach his bed-room some time in every day, to purify the air), because he ought never to be in his bed-room except during the hours when there is no sun. But the case is exactly reversed with the sick, even should they be as many hours out of their beds as you are in yours, which probably they are not. Therefore, that they should be able, without raising themselves or turning in bed, to see out of window from their beds, to see sky and sun-light at least, if you can show them nothing else, I assert to be, if not of the very first importance for recovery, at least something very near it. And you should therefore look to the position of the beds of your sick one of the very first things. If they can see out of two windows instead of one, so much the better. Again, the morning sun and the mid-day sun—the hours when they are quite certain not to be up, are of more importance to them, if a choice must be made, than the afternoon sun. Perhaps you can take them out of bed in the afternoon and set them by the window, where they can see the sun. But the best rule is, if possible, to give them direct sun-light from the moment he rises till the moment he sets.

Another great difference between the bed-room and the sick-room is, that the sleeper has a very large balance of fresh air to begin with, when he begins the night, if his room has been open all day as it ought to be; the sick man has not, because all day he has been breathing the air in the same room, and dirtying it by the emanations from himself. Far more care is therefore necessary to keep up a constant change of air in the sick room.

It is hardly necessary to add that there are acute cases, (particularly a few ophthalmic cases, and diseases where the eye is morbidly sensitive), where a subdued light is necessary. But a dark north room is inadmissible even for these. You can always moderate the light by blinds and curtains.

Heavy, thick, dark window or bed curtains should, however, hardly ever be used for any kind of sick in this country. A light white curtain at the head of the bed is, in general, all that is necessary, and a green blind to the window, to be drawn down only when necessary.

Without Sunlight, We Degenerate Body and Mind

One of the greatest observers of human things (not physiological), says, in another language, “Where there is sun there is thought.” All physiology goes to confirm this. Where is the shady side of deep valleys, there is cretinism. Where are cellars and the unsunned sides of narrow streets, there is the degeneracy and weakliness of the human race—mind and body equally degenerating. Put the pale withering plant and human being into the sun, and, if not too far gone, each will recover health and spirit.

Almost All Patients Lie with Their Faces to the Light

It is a curious thing to observe how almost all patients lie with their faces turned to the light, exactly as plants always make their faces turned to the light; a patient will even complain that it gives him pain “lying on that side.” “Then why do you lie on that side?” He does not know,—but we do. It is because it is the side towards the window. A fashionable physician has recently published in a government report that he always turns his patients’ faces from the light. Yes, but nature is stronger than fashionable physicians, and depend upon it she turns the faces back and towards such light as she can get. Walk through the wards of a hospital, remember the bed sides of private patients you have seen, and count how many sick you ever saw lying with their faces towards the wall.

If you found this post worthwhile, please share!
Log in to read this whole book for free.
This page is one small part of a much larger book.

Notes on Nursing

Length: 130 pages
Last Updated: 2020-06-30
Language: English
ISBN (Holloway.com):
978-1-952120-13-8

Notes on Nursing

by Florence Nightingale
A treatise on the best practices for the physical and psychological care of sick people, written by the iconic founder of modern nursing. It is a classic in formal nursing training, and was intended to be read and used by the general public as well. Joan Quixley praised this influential book as “the first of its kind ever to be written.”
Originally published by Harrison of Pall Mall in 1859
Project GutenbergDigital Text
National Portrait GalleryImages
Rachel JepsenDigital Production