A Critical Analysis of Florence Nightingale's Environment Theory

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Spirituality is a topic that examines the process in which the patient is nursed. Nursing is the process of patients healing and primarily made of four major models human being, health, environment and nursing. Therefore, this paper explores various ways in which the nurse should handle the sick in order to foster the healing process with regard to the Environment Theory by Florence Nightingale. As a matter of fact, most nurses do not consider spirituality as a key aspect during the process of healing of the patient. However, spirituality is critical aspect that should be addressed by the nurse to facilitate wholesome healing of the patient putting into consideration the attitude that most nurses focus on ensuring that there is remarkable recovery on the physical healing of the patient putting less attention to the other patient’s healing aspects such as mind, soul and psychology. One of the great nursing theorist Florence Nightingale who is always considered as the "The Lady with the Lamp" will be the focus of this paper (Rogers, & Wattis, 2015).  The theorist, Florence Nightingale’s comprehensive theory concepts have been deployed by the modern nursing professions. Florence Nightingale is well-known to have made done a lot major developments in the nursing and attributed to the modern nursing. She is known specifically to have immensely contributed during Crimean war (Chandramohan, & Bhagwan, 2016).

According to the Nightingale’s theory, the environment where the patient is nursed during the healing process is very important and can influence their time period of recovery. The environment may vary with different patients. For that reason, it is essential for nursing professions to understand the best ambience of the patient if they truly want to realize the ultimate goal of wholesome healing (Coakley, & Barron, 2015).

Environment Theory by Nightingale’s, puts environment as a major emphasis to the patient care. The theory states that the nurse should be able to subject the patient to the best environmental condition that will enable the nature to act positively as far as patients healing process is concerned. The environmental factors illustrated by the theorist include good housing with good room ventilation, bed and beddings that are in good state and clean respectively, good personal hygiene, good nutrition, room with minimized noise and good lighting are some of the crucial aspects that will determine patient’s healing process. For instance, good ventilation enhances patient’s accessibility to fresh air that is free from contamination unlike in poorly ventilated rooms where the patient will be forced to breathe in the same air thus promoting slow healing or even failure of patient to completely recover (O'brien, 2017).

According to the theory, during the Crimean War, the philosopher came up with innovative thoughts both comprehensive and effective ways on how wounded soldiers and those who have undergone surgery could be taken care to enhance their healing process. In addition, the theorist noted that if the aforementioned factors are not catered, the healing process of soldiers was dwindled. In regards to that, being close with the patient every time is another critical step that the theorist noted also advocated on the notion. Such deeds are illustrated as seen when the theorist remained with the sick soldiers throughout the period of war. Furthermore, the theory illustrates the negative impacts of putting a patient where there is a lot of noise. Unnecessary noise, or noise that creates an expectation in the mind, is that which hurts a patient. Harmful noise can be caused by agitation, loud steps while walking and unnecessary questions to the patient as well as rustling of skirts (O'brien, 2017).  The philosopher explained that light is so important stating that an almost dying human being or a withering plant can revive with presence of light alone. As such, this clearly shows the degree of how light is necessary to the process of healing. In fact, it is almost difficult for any nurse to administer ultimate care to the patient if the house of the patient is in a pathetic condition or poorly constructed. Owing to that, it is even more disastrous for the healing of the sick human being. Therefore, it is eminent that illness will stagnate (Timmins ET AL. 2015).

Furthermore, the theorist stressed variety as another major step to facilitate patients healing process as it helps relieve the patients from boredom. The patient can be cheered up through changing their surroundings. Presenting bright colors to the patient and decorating beautiful paintings in the walls aids in changing the environment of the patient which eventually speeds the healing process of the patient.  Also, ensuring good nutrition by taking food to them is fundamental as individuals require different food at different times of the day. Besides, it is more advantageous for them to take small bits of food at the course of the day rather than taking major meals. The theorist extensively noted that patients do not need any interference while taking food (Rogers, & Wattis, 2015).

Personal cleanliness ensures that the body is able to release morbid air from the skin. Hand-in hand with free room ventilation, personal body cleanliness is perquisite to enable normal skin excretion. The philosopher believed that frequent change of bed or free circulation of air. Moreover, the theory categorically states that bed should be placed in strategic position where the patient will be able to look outside through the window. Therefore, the caregiver should not distract the patient’s bed in anyway. For example, shaking of the bed, leaning against it or even sitting upon the patient should be avoided. Consequently, cheering hopes and uttering good news elevates to patients their healing process. There is need to have encouraging messages spoken to the patients by the good visitors to be repeatedly chatted to the patient. The sick people will feel motivated and rejuvenated which can make the smile and laugh. As a result, putting into consideration the patient’s environment is greatly supported by the author (O'brien, 2017).

Nursing has been addressed as the best ambience to which the nurse puts the patient to promote the patient to recover naturally. The theory conceptualizes that nurses must put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him. The theorist manifested that almost all woman are nurses since at a particular time they have taken the position of nursing. As such, the theorist takes nursing as an art. Conversely, the theory states that nursing is a calling but characteristics of a nurse are unknown. According to the author, health not only means having body well-being but possessing power to perform what we can.  It is completely impossible to comprehend the health of an individual. Therefore, it is the responsibility of nurses to ensure proper care to both the sick and the healthy people (Rogers, & Wattis, 2015).

Additionally, human beings are addressed on how to relate with the environment. The philosopher articulates that human being will tend to enjoy or like some things when they are well but dislike the same thing when they are unwell. For instance, someone will like taking sugary food when well but dislike when they are not feeling well. Furthermore, patients will feel more anxious when they cannot do certain things. Hence, if a patient has the capability of doing something it is a good practice to allow them perform such things since the act will add value to their recovering operation. Moreover, human mind is always being observed and it is always complicated as illustrated by the statement “laws of motions of the heavenly bodies” is easily grasped that the mind of human beings (O'brien, 2017).

The theory forms the foundation of how modern nursing professions perform their respective duties.   Free circulation of air is being applied by many hospitals as a way to ensure that healthy being of the patients is considered. Nowadays houses are designed in manner that accommodates for more than one window to promote the good ventilation expressed in the theory. Windows facilitates entry of enough sunlight which is one of a key requirement of the patient. Single-roomed patient rooms have been built to avoid some much noise within the room though also known to have its drawbacks. In fact, other hospitals have even made advanced efforts of putting sound proofs in the respective rooms of patients to cater for the noise disturbance. Also, bed sheets change or ensuring that they are thoroughly washed and allowed to dry should be the daily routine for all hospitals. Several hospitals employ Dietician who played vital role in advising the patient and the nurses about the purpose of taking a balance diet as all these myriad modern applications are attributed as per the theory. Although it was developed more than hundred years ago it is still being implemented and remains effective to our today health sector (Timmins ET AL. 2015).


            In conclusion, the philosopher is well-known through the remarkable contributions that has led to a lot of improvement in nursing services. Nurses can well understand the reactions and behaviors of the patient which has culminated to patients experiencing speedy wholesome healing. From the works of the author, it is evident that emphasizes should be put on the patients care than any other nursing undertaking. In this case, the environment in which the patient is subjected is the primary cornerstone that will determine the healing process of the individual. Therefore, it is the initiative of the nurses to configure the best settings for the patients so that the patient’s health restoration is gradual and involves biological and psychological development (Timmins ET AL. 2015). The theorist work marked a great positive impact in the nursing process and will not likely go away.


Chandramohan, S., & Bhagwan, R. (2016). Utilization of spirituality and spiritual care in nursing        practice in public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Religions, 7(3), 23.

Coakley, A. B., & Barron, A. M. (2015). Exploring the experiences of nurses who attended the     spirituality and nursing conference: The art of healing presence: The essence of nursing      practice. International Archives of Nursing and Health Care, 1(1), 1-4.

O'brien, M. E. (2017). Spirituality in nursing. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Rogers, M., & Wattis, J. (2015). Spirituality in nursing practice. Nursing Standard (2014+),          29(39), 51.

Timmins, F., Neill, F., Murphy, M., Begley, T., & Sheaf, G. (2015). Spiritual care competence     for contemporary nursing practice: A quantitative exploration of the guidance provided      by fundamental nursing textbooks. Nurse education in practice, 15(6), 485-491.

October 13, 2023

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