& Publications



Barbara has published book on Healing Environments providing evidence and understanding to how the built environment affects the healing process. These books can be found on Amazon, design studios across the country and college classrooms around the world.

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    Taming the Chaos of Dementia
    A Carever's Guide to Interventions that Make a Difference

    The book introduces dementia interventions by first addressing caring for the caregiver and then moving to the chapters by the intervention category, such as places and destinations, and triggers that cause interventions. The alchemy of home address the concept of home, how to find it, and bringing those elements to your person. Furnishing matters and can be a powerful intervention to keep your loved one safe and satisfied. Light and color are critical to maintaining our bio clock. Technology for dementia shares available resources and creative workarounds for caregivers. The chapter on nature shares numerous interventions you, the caregiver, and your love will enjoy together. Finally, the senses are the emotional link between you and your person’s right brain.

    Taming the Chaos of Dementia is a blend of simple interventions as seen through the eyes of both design and practicality. The Why factor, the science, is critical for understanding and explains why these intervention works. These are presented for home caregivers as tools to embrace with their person. And finally, these interventions are paired with personal human stories that both authors share in common. This work is a human story, backed by science and presented as a valuable guidebook for all the family caregivers struggling on the dementia journey.

    I'm please to announce that my new book Taming the Chaos of Dementia is in production and will be available Novemember 2023.

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    Environmental Design for Dementia

    Soon to be published in 2023

    This book supports the journey—taken by both the caregiver and the person with dementia—providing loved ones with practical recommendations based on evidence and enriched with human empathy. Recommendations helps ease the burden of stress by offering design interventions and non-pharmaceutical therapeutic suggestions. It helps decode dementia's visceral world and supports non-cognitive human experiences.

    Real stories from the journeys of authentic people who struggled to survive the chaos and challenges driven by dementia. I've paired these accounts with practical examples of design interventions that target the miseries of disruptive behaviors, environmental triggers, and factors that induce them.

    Suggested interventions are evidence-based and explores options in human engagement, the experience of destinations, positive distractions, familiar settings, furnishings, light, color, technology, nature, and the emotion of the senses. The book shows design interventions really can support the family caregivers in functional and emotional outcomes.

    I survived three challenging years of dementia caregiving, further surviving a heart attack, stress, sleepless nights, and being overwhelmed with caregiving tasks; I asked myself, "Do all caregivers of dementia go through similar journeys? Do they need to?" I am suggesting we consider adding human-centric design interventions as a powerful tool to improve the quality of life for people with dementia. This is the journey I share with you.


    by Barbara J. Huelat

    Impact of Healing Environments What’s the Proof? :

    Barbara Huelat is the author behind Healing Environments: What’s the Proof. She is a designer, author, strategist, leader and teacher. Her work bridges the art and science of healing as a human experience. This is her second book. It is a sequel to her first. Published in 2007 and second printing in 2015.

    “I wrote this second book to add badly needed evidence in support of Healing Environment principles keeping human needs at the core. ” Barbara J Huelat, Healing Design

    • Created a body of evidence to support value and evidence for healing environments

    • Use as a guide and checklist for hospitals, universities and medical institutions

    • Used as a text for interior design education

    • Used as text for AAHID’s exam study guide

    • Used in support of design and construction throughout the world

    • Used as a reference for architecture and design studios throughout the world

    • Lead to numerous lecturers, conference presentations, workshops and symposiums

    Overview: Healing Environments What s the Proof? Americans believe when they become sick, diseased or injured, they need medical attention to be cured. We have long associated curing with healing; believing that to be cured is to be healed. It is our expectation that medical facilities are healing environments.

    However, are they? Can a place heal? Can it be proved? Healing environments, continue to be defined and with new qualities including safety, security, accessibility, sustainable and now evidence-based design . Evidence-based design has become the new design tool of choice. Barriers can be mitigated, allowing elements such as better lighting, art programs and even water features to be specified with evidence that these amenities can actually improve patient outcomes.

    Evidence-based design, like evidence-based medicine has the power to move design to a new level of understanding and value. This book provides defining evidence that supports the latest scientific proof regarding the power of healing environments.


    by Barbara J. Huelat

    Impact of Healing Environments Design for the Body, Mind and Spirit:

    Barbra Huelat’s first book and grew out of a lecture series to define 10 core principles of Healing Environments. Her students begged her to put these concepts in print – so she did. 1st printing in 2003.

    “I felt the need to help clarify and quantify hard fast principles and not just fuzzy buzz words to describe what a healing environment really is and how to achieve one.”

    Created a standard of definition to describe elements of a healing environment

    • Use as a guide and checklist for hospitals, universities and medical institutions

    • Used as a text for interior design education

    • Used as text for AAHID’s exam study guide

    • Basis for the Chinese translation of Healing Environments – Chinese

    • Lead to numerous lecturers, conference presentations, workshops and symposiums

    Do people heal faster if they’re comfortable? Environments can heal, but they can also harm. By designing with an eye towards the body, mind and spirit, we can create environments that promote healing and inner peace. “Creating Healing Environments Design for the Body, Mind & Spirit,” offers practical advise for those seeking to create healing places.

    Body-mind medicine enjoys exceptional popularity today as the aging population looks for ways to conquer illness. This book addresses current healthcare philosophies with holistic recommendations typicall overlooked in traditional medicine. This is not about modern miracles in medicine, but about the human side of healing – how people survive hostile places by immersing themselves in the positive pleasures of being human.

    “Creating Healing Environments for the Body, Mind and Spirit,” explores environments that promote healing for all three aspects of life. Healing environments embrace the spirit found in nature and in our God as experienced through the celebration of life.


    by Barbara Huelat

    Impact of Chinese Healing Environment Book:

    • First and second printing distributed within universities and medical centers in Taiwan and South East Asia

    • It has become the university textbook at Tunghai University in the department of Healing Design and Research, Taichung, Taiwan

    • Healing Environment Principles adapted from this book became standards for design and construction of the new National Cancer Center in Taipei.

    • Book has been used as healing design criteria at National University in Taipei, Taichung Veterans General Hospital and the Geriatric hospital in Taichung.

    • Book has led to invitations for Barbara Huelat to speak, lecture, develop workshops and collaborate at universities, medical centers and conferences on various Healing Environment topics

    Internationally acclaimed. This book was the collaborative work with Dr. Thomas Wan and Barbara Huelat to publish a Chinese (Healing Environments) edition. Dr Wan understood the need for these concepts in Southeast Asia and was instrumental in getting Ms. Huelat’s books translated and published. First published 2003 was extremely successful which led to a new contract and second printing 2019 by WuNan Publishing, Taiwan. Book is a Chinese translation from” Healing Environments: Design for the Body, Mind & Spirit” 1st edition 2003 was originally published in English.

Design Intervention Research

"Research is creating new knowledge."

- Neil Armstrong
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  • Stress in the Volunteer Caregiver: Human-Centric Technology Can Support Both Caregivers and People with Dementia
    May 26, 2020 at 9:36 PM

    Abstract: Background and Objectives: Currently, one in eight people over the age of 65 have dementia, and approximately 75% of caregiving is provided by volunteer family members with little or no training. This study aimed to quantify points of stress for home-based caregivers with the aim of reducing stress for them while concurrently supporting quality of life for the people with dementia whom they cared for. The overreaching purpose was to increase our knowledge of the caregiver stress burden and explore potential technologies and behaviors to ease it. Materials and Methods: We interviewed home-based and professional caregivers regarding causes of emotional and physical stress and methods they used to alleviate it. Results: This study found that: (1) dementia symptoms created a burden of stress for home-based caregivers primarily in the areas of medication management, memory loss, hygiene care and disruptive behaviors; (2) home-based caregivers identified “finding available resources” as the most important source of stress relief; (3) a minority of home-based caregivers possessed a resource network and knew how to find resources but all professional caregivers were able to find resources and support; (4) home-based caregivers combated dementia symptoms with positive distractions and human touch with little use of technology, since it was mostly unknown; and 5) facility-based caregivers were knowledgeable and readily used dementia-based technology. Conclusion: Since professional caregivers have access to technological resources that our home-based caregivers lack, one might logically conclude that we should transfer technology used by professionals to those with dementia. However, great caution needs to be in place before we take that step. Successful technology should address the human experience as home-based caregivers try to use new technologies. Human-centric technology addresses the needs of both people with dementia and the home-based caregiver.

    Full Article published in Medicina

    Huelat, Barbara, and Sharon T. Pochron. "Stress in the Volunteer Caregiver: Human-Centric Technology Can Support Both Caregivers and People with Dementia." Medicina 56, no. 6 (2020): 257.

  • The Wisdom of Biophilia - Nature in Healing Environmnets

    Abstract: Biophilia is defined as a love of the living world. We seek nature, especially when we don't feel well. Nature can calm us with a beautiful sunset or invigorate us with a spring rain. Both ancient and modern people use nature in healing. Nature has always offered healing places: a sacred spring, a reflective pond, a quiet grove and majestic peaks. For centuries we have sought these sanctuaries in our quest for health and healing.

    Hypocrites believed that the vital spirit provided the essence of life and natural healing ability. The word “disease” gets its meaning from “dis,” meaning apart and “ease” meaning balance; dis-ease describes a loss of balance and harmony. Designing with nature can restore balance and harmony within the environment.

    Nature is our guide to balance and harmony. Nature-based designs draw upon the innate intelligence found in nature—when plants turn their leaves to the sun for light, when a bird sits on eggs, and ultimately, when our body knows how to heal itself.

    What is it about nature that we find so appealing? Why do we enjoy the natural world? How is nature healing? To address these questions we look to the diverse sciences of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental psychology and evolutionary anthropology, and neurosciences.

    Biophilia—including components of biomimicry, biodiversity, biochemistry and fractals—holds the key to our love affair of nature.

    Huelat, Barbara J. "The wisdom of biophilia—nature in healing environments." Journal of Green Building 3, no. 3 (2008): 23-35.

  • Wayfinding: Design for Understanding

    Abstract: What is Wayfinding?

    Wayfinding is a person’s spatial behavior or orientation. Spatial orientation is the static relationship to space or the environment. The concept of spatial orientation is the predecessor of wayfinding. This relationship requires the user to form an overall mental image of the layout of the place. This image is referred to as the cognitive map of the setting. Cognitive mapping concerns the ability to visualize a map, and wayfinding uses the cognitive-mapping process to solve location-based problems.

    Unlike spatial orientation with its static relationship to space, wayfinding is a dynamic relationship to the space. It is dynamic in that people’s movement with their direct sense of orientation to place must be accommodated.

    Huelat, Barbara J. "Wayfinding–Design for understanding. A position paper for the Environmental Standards Council of The Center for Health Design." Concord, CA: The Center for Health Design (2007).


    Barbara Huelat healthcare interior design, recipient of numerous healthcare design award, author of three compelling books on healing environments which further addresses design and science. Her probing questions in her white papers, investigative reports and reverent articles seek to answer health challenges beyond design. She has written scholarly articles on topic of green healthcare, biophilia, bacteria mitigation, wayfinding, color and art for healing, humancentric, design for dementia and caregiving.

    Wayfinding: Design for Understanding, B Huelat, Published by Center for Health Design Environments Standards Council 10-2007.

    • Wayfinding Management: Models & Methods in Healthcare Environments, B Huelat.

    Published by Sign Research Foundation. 2016.

    • Cleanliness Best Practices, Published by Center for Health Design, B Huelat. 1-2016.

    • Beyond Countertops- Material Surfaces in Healthcare Facilities. Published by LG Solid Surfaces. B Huelat. 6-2013

    • Patient Centered Design for Senior Living, B Huelat and A Tilghman, Planetree .3-2019.

    • ER One – Three Phase Research: 1) Bacteria Mitigation in Emergency Department Design, 2) Work flow Staff, Patient & Equipment in Emergency Department, 3) Positive Distractions in Emergency Departments. Published MedStar Research, Herman Miller White Paper, Center for Health Design. 2009-2013.

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