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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Outdoor Environments at Three Nursing Homes: Semantic Environmental Descriptions

Bengtsson, Anna; Hägerhäll, Caroline; Englund, Jan-Eric; Grahn, Patrik


Research suggests that the outdoor environment is an important source of variety and change as well as health and well-being for nursing home residents. However, not every outdoor environment has the potential to be a positive resource in the life of older persons at nursing homes, and in this respect we need to study the particular design and content of the outdoor environment. The semantic environmental description (SMB) is a quantitatively based standardized tool intended to systematically describe an environment through assessments of 8 dimensions, namely: pleasantness, complexity, unity, enclosedness, potency, social status, affection, and originality. In this study the SMB was used to compare the outdoor environment of an imagined ideal nursing home and the outdoor environments of 3 existing nursing homes. Furthermore, assessments of an imagined ideal nursing home by pensioners and by nursing home staff were compared. The environment that was the closest to the ideal environment according to the assessments was a park-like environment that was larger and had more variation in vegetation than the other environments. The article concludes by discussing the SMB dimensions in relation to important environmental qualities in nursing home gardens.


evidence-based design; garden; landscape architecture; older persons; semantic environmental description

Published in

Journal of Housing for the Elderly
2015, Volume: 29, number: 1-2, pages: 53-76