Cookie Decorating and Cocktails: Themed Parties For the Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and one of the most timeless, beloved traditions is cookie decorating before Christmas time. Instead of setting aside an afternoon to bake batch after batch of Christmas cookies, why not plan a full-blown cookie decorating party to include friends and family?

How a Cookie Decorating Party Works

A cookie decorating party can work in one of two ways. You can ask all guests to bring their own favorite cookies, undecorated, to the party for a group decorating project. Or, you can ask guests to pitch in and make batches of cookies in your kitchen that you can all decorate together once they cool, fresh out of the oven.

For a smaller gathering with a few friends, baking cookies and decorating together will work well. For a larger party of five or more, it’s a better idea to ask guests to bring their own undecorated cookies so you don’t have to worry about squeezing a large group into a crowded, hot kitchen to bake cookies together.

To plan ahead, make sure that you have all of the necessary decorating supplies set up in advance in different stations throughout the room, including:

• Aprons or smocks
• Paper towels
• Tubes of icing in different colors
• Sprinkles and other assorted decorations
• Food coloring
• Small paintbrushes

From there, it’s time to get cracking! Guests can decorate plain cookies of their choice with different icings and assorted decorations, like sprinkles, chocolate chips, M&Ms, crushed peppermint, and more. You may also choose to splurge on fancy holiday cookie decorations like colored sugar, silver ball candies, and cinnamon hearts.

All of the decorations can be set up in individual bowls for use at each decorating station. Guests can also create their own colored icing with food coloring to paint different designs on each cookie using a small paintbrush.

Adult Beverages for Cookie Decorating

If this is an adults-only party, you have the perfect opportunity to pair holiday cookies with delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy throughout the decorating process. Depending upon the type of cookies that you decorate, whether they’re plain sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, or even peanut butter cookies, you can pair your holiday drinks accordingly.

Decorated holiday sugar cookies will go well with a warm beverage like Irish Coffee or spiked cider. You can also make a large batch of alcoholic holiday punch with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, served chilled and topped with a splash of cranberry juice and sparkling wine.

For more flavorful cookies, like peanut butter or snickerdoodle, serve a refreshing holiday favorite like mulled wine, peppermint martinis, or rich yet satisfying alcoholic eggnog.

For an adult-themed cookie decorating holiday bash, make sure to provide guests with the convenience of arranging transportation to and from the venue with a limo rental or luxury town car. This will allow guests to ride safely to and from the party destination so that they can enjoy a few holiday cocktails without having to worry about driving home at the end of the evening. ‘Tis the season!

Four Major Functions Provided by a Real Estate Agent That You Can Do Yourself

Selling a home entails four major functions that are usually performed by a real estate agent. If we take the mystery out of those functions, they start looking as if we can do them without an agent. And you can!

1. Pricing your property

The first thing that an agent will do for you is help price your property. You don’t want to offer your home for sale at double its market value because it just won’t sell. Likewise, you don’t want to offer your home for sale at half its market value because you would just be cheating yourself of that price difference. If the market is such that your house in your neighborhood in your city is worth about $200,000 then you want to sell it for that. If you have made additions to the house that might make it worth more, then you want to add those items to it. The real estate agent has a lot of that data at their fingertips through their subscriptions and through their knowledge of the marketplace.

You can do this pricing yourself as long as you don’t let your ego get the better of common sense. You can find out what homes are selling for by cruising your neighborhood and checking out homes for sale to see what they are priced at. You can check to see what they sold for by visiting your tax authorities. Most municipalities and counties require that all deed transfers be recorded as a matter of public record. You can access that data through the internet if your municipality offers it, or you can go look it up in person where the internet is not used. Just make sure you are pricing your 3 bedroom 2 bath house with other 3 bedroom 2 bath houses rather than a 2 bedroom or 5 bedroom house.

2. Marketing your property

Marketing real estate is a sort of catch-all word for advertising the home as being for sale and then showing the property to prospective buyers through appointments or open-houses. The most important and probably most costly marketing activity is advertising the house. There is one real estate agent around here that states in their commercials that they spend between $1,000 and $1,500 per HOUSE while claiming that many agents only spend less than $500 per month for all of the houses that they list.

You can perform all 3 of these marketing functions. Who would be better to show a home or to have an open-house than the resident of the home — just do not let your ego get in the way and react defensively to reasonable buying questions. The advertising should be fairly simple as well. You are just as qualified to create want-ads for your local and regional papers and classified magazines as long as you model your ads after the ones that you will be competing for attention with. There are some advertising sites that require that all of their advertisers be real estate agents. You might try circumventing that restriction by offering a real estate agent a small fee to list your property on those restricted sites. The worse they can do is say “No” and a different agent might be more cooperative.

3. Contract exchange and negotiation.

Real estate agents act as intermediaries between the seller and the buyer. They take a contract proposal from the prospective buyer or their agent and present it to the seller. This goes on with price changes or with feature additions and removals until both the seller and the buyer agree on the selling price and property conditions.

There should be no question that you can do this yourself as the seller. After all, the agent would have to come to you anyway to get your approval and signature. Once again, this is where you need to put your ego and pride to the side. At this stage, all of your advertising and pricing work has come to fruition and you have a buyer negotiating with you. The worse thing you could do is to react defensively. You just participate in a give and take during the process as if it were for someone else.

4. Preparing the final paperwork and closing the sale

The real estate agent is usually the one to give all of the closing information to the title company and lawyers so that the deed to the property can be transferred from the seller to the buyer with no problems. This is when checks are transferred and mortgages paid off. It is also when the commission check is given to the real estate broker for dispersal to his agent.

You can do these things also. You are the one that has handled the paperwork up to now. You are the one that is ready for your mortgage to be paid off. You are the one ready to receive a check for the difference between what you owe on the mortgage and the selling price of the house. Most of this information is put on the HUD-1 form by the title company. In fact the major role of the agent here is to hold your hand and collect the commission check. Again, these tasks can be handled with a minimum of activity on your part. Any legal requirements can be farmed out to a lawyer for a much smaller fee than the agent’s commission.

Pricing, marketing, negotiating, and closing are all functions that are required to sell a property. They are all tasks normally handled by a real estate agent. They are also tasks that you can do yourself at a cost far less than 5% of the selling price of your house.

Vacation Rentals and Holiday Home Rentals – "Tips For Renting"

So you’re planning the holidays, you fancy something in the sun, but where to go? Who is coming? How many?
Will we rent a luxury condo or house instead of staying in a hotel? Well you can make big savings by taking a Villa. Plus, you’ll have more space and privacy to relax and enjoy your home away from home. Renting a vacation home is an especially smart choice if you’re traveling with a group of friend or with kids.

Here are some tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

1. Once you choose a destination.
If you’re looking for sensational savings your best bet is to choose a destination where there are a lot of holiday rentals on the market, keeping prices competitive. You can find some of the best bargains on vacation home rentals online if you know what to ask about and how to protect yourself as a renter. Don’t be shy contact the owner and ask for a deal.

2. Comparison sites- way to go!
Now it’s easier than ever to comparison shop when you’re looking to save on a vacation home rental. You can find some of the best rental home listings the net has to offer on sites like holiday121 and other consolidator sites like these. These are referral sites not booking site and you can check out many homes at the same time to get the best prices and most suitable dates and keep a record of sites visited.

3. Don’t send money.
When renting a vacation home, never send anyone money it’s a bad idea. Pay by credit card or PayPal where you have some come back.
Ask for references, and check out their Web site and their track record. Read their reviews! Read the fine print. Is there a cancellation policy? What if you have to leave early? Does it stipulate when you will get your breakage deposit back? Spend the time up front checking things out so you won’t have any hassles later.

4. Know exactly what’s included.
When you book a rental home for your holidays it’s a short term rental and everything should be included, if there are extras like pool heat, these will be stipulated on the invoice.
Most rental homes will say “everything’s included,” but you want to double-check to be sure that there are no hidden surcharges there should not be any.
If utilities, Internet and cable are included, does this mean the property has Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet? Is it basic cable or premium? If electricity is paid is there a cap? Many properties will say they include utilities, electricity and gas and then the fine print says it’s included, up to the first $200.
Recommendation; don’t touch a short term rental that is not all inclusive.

5. Who is the local management company?
Ask who has the local management of the property these are a very important part of the service and backup. Your rental contract should include who to call if your dishwasher breaks or there’s some other problem with the property. It should also state a time frame for fixing any major problems. You don’t want to rent a home and have the hot water heater conk out and end up with cold showers for two week. The information should also be posted in a contact book inside the property. Make sure you have a phone number and email address of the contact and if possible get a second person as a backup.

6. Is the home family friendly?
If you’re traveling with kids, make sure the property you rental is family friendly. Check the bed configurations. If you have three kids and the guest room only has a king-sized bed you could be in trouble. Does the pool have an alarm? (Toddler safety)
Also make sure you see lots pictures of the home. Do you really want to rent a place with a white couch and fancy décor if your 3-year-old still thinks it is fun to color on everything in sight? Make sure the home you’re renting fits your family’s needs so you’re all comfortable. What about the location? Where is the house what are the local amenities? Is it close to the attractions?

7. Can you bring a pet?
Some vacation rentals accept pets, but they may have a size limit. Some folks would not like to rent a property for their family that had the possibility of a pet staying in with previous guests in the home, unhygienic, so if that may be a problem eliminate pet friendly from your search.

8. Is a refund available if you leave early?
If you think you may want or need to leave early, check your contract to see if you’re eligible for a partial refund. Most vacation rentals are for a specific time period and don’t offer refunds because that leaves the homeowner in a lurch with no time to rent to someone else. Know going in what the rules are so there are no unpleasant surprises.

9. Pick a house that most suits your needs.
Keep in mind when you’re renting a vacation home you’re renting a property that’s individually owned. This isn’t a hotel where if you don’t like what you have you can get something else. Once you book and pay your deposit for a specific property, that’s the property you’re getting, so make sure it’s exactly what you want. Ask if reviews from other renters are available; also remember you get what you pay for so contact the owner. While scoring a good deal is the goal, if it’s too cheap there’s probably a reason check it out. Sometimes the cheapest price is not the best value.

10. Book early.
Avoid disappointment; there are certain times of the year when the villa rentals are on fire, so book early. Also you might look at the availability on the owners web site and pick a slightly out of season time, which brings me back to point one, don’t be shy contact the owner and ask for a deal. A last point to help is a lot of vacation rental owners have links to car rental and cheap flights sites or attraction ticket sites. Try and do a package deal for all three or four services. Good luck!!

Quiet Air Purifiers

If you reside in an area where there is a great deal of air pollution, you will want to consider shopping for quiet air purifiers. These devices not only provide you with clean air in your home, but can do so without making too much noise. It is not a good idea to live in a busy city where you are inhaling smog and other harmful substances everywhere you go. At least you can control the quality of the air in your home.

Air purifiers are necessary for your health if you live where the air is not the cleanest around. Respiratory problems can come about if you allow your lungs to take in this dirty air every day. You will save a lot of time and money in the long run if you invest in a purifier for your home today. Medical bills that could be incurred from taking in unclean air could be cost you a great deal more than even the most expensive air purifier.

If nothing else, these tools can help to cut down on allergies from pollen and other substances.

Quiet air purifiers not only help you live in a healthy manner, but they can also provide you with a more comfortable home. Many purifiers filter out odors, so you will have clean and fresh air that you breathe in. This is very effective for a home that is smoked in. Even if someone smokes just outside the door, the cigarette smell can travel into the home. The purifier will help to remove this scent from the air so no one will have to deal with it. Getting a silent purifier will give you fresh air without all the noise of other purifiers. This really comes in handy when you are trying to sleep or concentrate on working or reading.

Look for air purifiers that offer a HEPA filter.

These filters have passed specific standards set by the Department of Energy. With such a filter, you can remove 99.9% of all allergens and other substances from the air in your home. This will allow you to decrease the amount of dirt, toxins, and other particles that you breathe in on a daily basis.

As you can see, quiet air purifiers are a great investment, especially if you live in a busy, smog-filled city. Even if you live away from pollution, you may benefit from these devices if you are prone to allergies. It can help to filter out pollen, cigarette smoke, and other elements that could irritate your lungs and airways. Be sure to get one with a HEPA filter so you can be sure that you are making a wise investment into a device that will work effectively to remove harmful particles in the air.

Planning and Design of Behavioral Healthcare Facilities

Behavioral Healthcare Facilities: The Current State of Design

In keeping with most districts of healthcare, the marketplace has seen a boom in the construction of Behavioral Healthcare facilities. Contributing to this increase is the paradigm shift in the way society views mental illness. Society is placing a heavier value on the need to treat people with serious addictions such as alcohol, prescription and elicit drugs. A large percentage of people suffering from behavioral disorders are afflicted with both mental and addictive behaviors, and most will re-enter communities and either become contributors or violators.

These very specialized facilities do not typically yield the attention from today’s top healthcare designers and their quantity accounts for a small fraction of healthcare construction. However, Behavioral Healthcare projects are increasing in number and are being designed by some very prominent architectural firms such as Cannon Design and Architecture Plus. Many are creating state-of-the-art, award-winning contemporary facilities that defy what most of us believe Behavioral Healthcare design to be.

Changing the Way We Design Behavioral Healthcare Facilities

As with all good planners and designers, A+D (along with facility experts) are reviewing the direct needs of patient and staff while reflecting on how new medicine and modern design can foster patient healing rates, reduce environmental stress, and increase safety. This is changing the face of treatment and outcome by giving the practitioner more time to treat because they require less time and resources to “manage” disruptive patient populations.

The face of Behavioral Healthcare is quickly changing. No longer are these facilities designed to warehouse patients indefinitely. And society’s expectations have changed. Patients are often treated with the belief that they can return to their community and be a contributor to society. According to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), depending on the severity of illness, the average length of stay in a Behavioral Healthcare facility is only 9.6 days.

What has changed?

Jaques Laurence Black, AIA, president and principal of New York City-based daSILVA Architects, states that there are two primary reasons for the shortened admission period:

1. Introduction of modern psychotropic drugs that greatly speed recovery

2. Pressures from insurance companies to get patients out of expensive modes of care

To meet these challenges, healthcare professionals are finding it very difficult to effectively treat patients within the walls of antiquated, rapidly deteriorating mental facilities. A great percentage of these facilities were built between 1908 and 1928 and were designed for psychiatric needs that were principled in the belief to “store” not to “rehabilitate.”

Also impacting the need for Behavioral Healthcare construction is the reluctance of acute-care facilities to provide mental health level services for psychiatric or addiction patients. They recognize that patient groups suffering from behavioral disorders have unique health needs, all of which need to be handled and treated only by very experienced healthcare professionals. This patient population also requires a heightened level of security. Self-harm and injuring staff and other patients are major concerns.

The Report of the Surgeon General: “Epidemiology of Mental Illness” also reports that within a given year about 20% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder and 5.4% suffer from a serious mental illness (SMI ) – defined as bipolar, panic, obsessive-compulsive, personality, and depression disorders and schizophrenia. It is also believed 6% of Americans suffer from addiction disorders, a statistic that is separate from individuals who suffer from both mental and addiction disorders. Within a given year it is believed that over one-quarter of America’s population warrants levels of mental clinical care. Even if these statistics were cut in half, it cannot be denied as a serious societal issue.

With a growing population, effectively designing in accordance with such measures is at the heart of public health.

Understanding the Complexity of Behavioral Healthcare Design

Therefore, like Corrections, leading planners and designers specializing in Behavioral Healthcare are delving deeper to better understand the complexity of issues and to be the activist to design facilities that promote treatment and healing – and a safer community.

The following is a list of key design variables that are being studied and implemented:

1. Right Sizing

2. Humanizing Materials and Color

3. Staff-Focused Amneties and Happiness

4. Security and Safety

5. Therapeutic Design Tenants

Right-sizing

Today’s Behavioral Healthcare facilities are often one-story single buildings within a campus size. Often debated by Clients due to costs, this design preference is driven by the demand for Uncategorized light, window views to nature for all patient areas, and outdoor open-air gardens “wrapped” within. All of this provides soothing qualities to the patient, reduces their anxieties, counteracts disruptive conduct and helps to reduce staff stress.

“When you look at the program mix in these buildings, there’s a high demand for perimeter because there are a lot of rooms that need Uncategorized light. Offices, classrooms, dining areas, community rooms, and patient rooms all demand Uncategorized light, so you end up with a tremendous amount of exterior wall, and it forces the building to have a very large footprint.” – James Kent Muirhead, AIA, associate principal at Cannon Design in Baltimore

These design principles are also believed to improve staff work conditions. Unlike a multi-story complex, at any moment staff can walk outdoors and access nature, free from visual barriers, and within a building that more accurately reflects building types that both patients and staff would encounter in their communities.

In addition to right-sizing for the overall building footprint, is right-sizing for internal patient and staff support area. Similar to the move we have seen in Corrections to de-centralize support spaces, Behavioral Healthcare is moving to decentralized nursing/patient units called “neighborhoods.” With mental health facilities there is a large concern with distances and space adjacencies in relation to the patient room and patient support areas such as treatment and social spaces. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, Troy, NY, advocates neighborhoods that average 24-30 beds arranged in sub-clusters, called “houses”, of 8-10 beds. Thus, each neighborhood consists of three houses. Often these layouts will include a common area where patients congregate and socialize, with a separate quiet room so patients can elect to avoid active, crowded areas. In addition Pitts states, “There’s a move away from central dining facilities. So, while facilities will still have a central kitchen, it’s a whole lot easier moving food than it is patients.” However, it is important for the facility to mimic normal outside daily life routines, so patients are encouraged to frequently leave their neighborhoods to attend treatment sessions, and outdoor courtyards.

Humanizing Materials & Color

In all facilities that play a role in rehabilitation, design strives to create spaces that humanize, calm, and relax. Behavioral Healthcare patients need to feel that they are in familiar surroundings; therefore, the architectural vocabulary should feel comfortable and normal. Since these facilities are about rehabilitation (when possible) and encouraging patients to merge back into society, the facility should feel like an extension of the community. Their spaces should reflect the nature and architecture of the surrounding region and thus so, no two facilities should look too much alike.

“Our a
pproach to designing these facilities is to view the facility as an extension of the community where patients will end up when they’re released. Interior finishes also depend on geography because you want to replicate the environment patients are used to. You want to de-stigmatize the facility as much as possible.” – Tim Rommel, AIA, ACHA, OAA, principal with Cannon Design in Buffalo, NY.

Therefore, materials and colors within these spaces want to feel familiar to one’s region and everyday life. To soothe the psyche and rehabilitate, they want to feel soft and comfortable, yet visually stimulating. An interior that is overly neutral or hard in appearance is not appropriate. Materials should reduce noise, and colors should lift the spirit. This can help to create an environment in which the patient can learn, socialize, and be productive while easing anxieties, delivering dignity, and modifying behavior. As stated previously, behavioral studies advise the use of softer interior materials-like carpeting, wood doors and tile. Doing so translates directly to both patient and staff well-being, particularly staff safety, and makes for a nicer place to work. In addition, staff have more resources to “treat” instead of manage heated situations. When staff experiences are eased and satisfied, morale is boosted and life-saving rules and policies are more likely to be enforced.

Staff-Focused Amenities & Happiness

While reducing staff stress and fatigue through a healing supportive environment seems like an obvious goal, there are relatively few studies that have dealt with this issue in any detail. More attention has been given to patient outcomes. However, many leading hospitals that have adopted therapeutic tenants into their newly built environments have seen vast improvement through their “business matrixes” and financial reporting.

In one example, the Mayo Clinic, a national leader in implementing healing design in its facilities, has reported a reduction of nursing turnover from a national annual average of 20% to an annual 3%-4%. In another example, when Bronson Methodist Hospital incorporated evidence-based design into its new 343-bed hospital, they cited their 19%-20% nurse turnover rate dramatically dropped to 5%.

Now, both the Mayo Clinic and Bronson Methodist Hospital have had to initiate a waiting list for nursing staff seeking positions. This converts to better-trained and qualified staff, and a reduced error rate. Therefore, more health facilities are investing in staff support areas such as lounges, changing rooms, and temporary sleep rooms. Within these staff spaces and in the hospital throughout, facilities are also recognizing the need for upgrade materials, better day lighting, and an interesting use of color: One soon realizes that the need of patients and staff are interwoven, each impacting positively or negatively the other.

Security & Safety

Without debate, self harm and harm to staff is one of the biggest concerns mental health facilities manage. Often the biggest safety and security concern is the damage patients can do to themselves. “There are three rules I had drummed in me,” says Mark Hanchar; Director of Preconstruction Services for Gilbane Building Company, Providence, R.I. “First, there can’t be any way for people to hang themselves. Second, there can be no way for them to create weapons. Third, you must eliminate things that can be thrown.” Hanchar says that the typical facility is, “a hospital with medium-security prison construction.” This means shatter proof glass, solid surface countertops (laminate can be peeled apart), stainless steel toilets and sinks (porcelain can shatter), push pull door latches and furniture that cannot be pulled apart and used as a weapon. These are just to name a few.

Additionally, removing barriers between patients and nursing staff is a safety consideration. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, says what may be counter-intuitive for safety precautions, “Glass walls around nursing stations just aggravate the patients.” Removing glass or lowering it at nursing stations so patients can feel a more human connection to nurses often calms patients. There is also discussion of removing nursing stations altogether; decentralizing and placing these care needs directly into the clinical neighborhoods and community spaces. Pitt says, “The view is that [nursing staff] need to be out there treating their patients.”

Therapeutic Design Tenants

As medicine is increasingly moving towards “evidence-based” medicine, where clinical choices are informed by research, healthcare design is increasingly guided by research linking the physical environment directly to patient and staff outcomes. Research teams from Texas A&M and Georgia Tech sifted through thousands of scientific articles and identified more than 600 – most from top peer-reviewed journals – to quantify how hospital design can play a direct role in clinical outcomes.

The research teams uncovered a large body of evidence that demonstrates design features such as increased day-lighting, access to nature, reduced noise and increased patient control helped reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase staff effectiveness – all of which promote healing rates and save facilities cost. Therefore, improving physical settings can be a critical tool in making hospitals more safe, more healing, and better places to work.

Today’s therapeutic spaces have been defined to excel in 3 categories:

1. Provide clinical excellence in the treatment of the body

2. Meet the psycho-social needs of patients, families, and staff

3. Produce measurable positive patient outcomes and staff effectiveness

Considering the cost of treating mental illness, which is exceedingly high, and wanting facilities to have effective outcomes, a further practice of incorporating therapeutic design is increasing. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIM H) approximated in 2008 that serious mental illnesses (SMI ), costs the nation $193 billion annually in lost wages. The indirect costs are impossible to estimate.

The estimated direct cost to clinically treat is approximately $70 billion annually and another $12 billion spent towards substance abuse disorders. In addition to the increased need of care and the boom in Behavioral Healthcare construction, it becomes an obligation to make certain that we as facility managers, architects, designers and manufacturers therapeutically plan and design these facilities.

Notably, in 2004, “The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital for the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity,” published by Roger Ulrich P.H.D., of Texas A&M University, was released. In a culmination of evidence-based research, research teams found five design principles that contributed significantly to achieving therapeutic design goals.

The report indicates five key factors that are essential for the psychological well-being of patients, families and staff, including:

1. Access to Nature

2. Provide Positive Distractions

3. Provide Social Support Spaces

4. Give a Sense of Control

5. Reduce or eliminate environmental stress

Access to Nature

Studies indicate that nature might have the most powerful impact to help patient outcomes and staff effectiveness. Nature can be literal or figurative – Uncategorized light, water walls, views to nature, large prints of botanicals and geography, materials that indicate nature and most importantly, stimulating color that evokes nature. Several studies strongly support that access to nature such as day-lighting and appropriate colorations can improve health outcomes such as depression, agitation, sleep, circadian rest-activity rhythms, as well as length of stay in demented patients and persons with seasonal affective disorders (SAD).

These and related studies continue to affirm the powerful impact of Uncategorized elements on patient recovery and stress reduction. Thus, it is clea
r that interior designs which integrate Uncategorized elements can create a more relaxing, therapeutic environment that benefits both patients and staff.

Positive Distractions

These are a small set of environmental features that provide the patient and family a positive diversion from “the difficult” and, in doing so, also negate an institutional feel. These can be views to nature, water walls, artwork, super imposed graphics, sculpture, music – and ideally all of these want to be focused on nature and, when applicable, an interesting use of color. Therapeutic environments that provide such patient-centered features can empower patients and families, but also increase their confidence in the facility and staff. This helps with open lines of communication between patient and caregiver.

Social Support Spaces

These are spaces designed partially for the patient but mainly for the comfort and socialization of family members and friends of the patient; therefore, family lounges, resource libraries, chapels, sleep rooms and consult rooms all play a role. When family and friends play a key role in a patient’s healing, these spaces encourage families to play an active role in the rehabilitation process.

Sense of Control

In times when patients and family feel out of control, it is very healing for the facility design and staff to provide it back when appropriate. Although, this cannot always be done suitably in mental healthcare facilities. However, when applicable, these design features include optional lighting choices, architectural way-finding, resource libraries, enhanced food menus, private patient rooms and

optional areas to reside in. A few well-appointed studies in psychiatric wards and nursing homes have found that optional choices of moveable seating in dining areas enhanced social interaction and improved eating disorders. When patients feel partially in control of their healing program and that the building features are focused to them, an increased confidence of the quality of care enters and tensions lower.

As with all therapeutic design, this allows the caregiver to use their resources healing in lieu of “managing” patient populations.

Reduce or Eliminate Environmental Stress

Noise level measurements show that hospital wards can be excessively noisy places resulting in negative effects on patient outcomes. The continuous background noise produced by medical equipment and staff voices often exceeds the level of a busy restaurant. Peak noise periods (shift changes, equipment alarms, paging systems, telephones, bedrails, trolleys, and certain medical equipment like portable xray machines are comparable to walking next to a busy highway when a motorcycle or large truck passes.

Several studies have focused on infants in NIC Us, finding that higher noise levels, for example, decrease oxygen saturation (increasing need for oxygen support therapy), elevate blood pressure, increase heart and respiration rate, and worsen sleep. Research on adults and children show that noise is a major cause of awakening and sleep loss.

In addition to worsening sleep, there is strong evidence that noise increases stress in adult patients, for example, heightening blood pressure and heart rate. Environmental surfaces in hospitals are usually hard and sound-reflecting, not sound-absorbing causing noise to travel down corridors and into patient rooms. Sounds tend to echo, overlap and linger longer.

Interventions that reduce noise have been found to improve sleep and reduce patient stress. Of these, the environmental or design interventions such as changing to sound-absorbing ceiling tiles, are more successful than organizational interventions like establishing “quiet hours.”

Conclusion and Additional Information

The information contained in this excerpted report is intended as a guide for architects, specifiers, designers, facility planners, medical directors, procurers, psychologists and social workers which have a stake in providing improved facilities for behavioral healthcare patients. It is a portion of a report entitled “The Contributions of Color” authored by Tara Hill, of Little Fish Think Tank. Ms. Hill was commissioned by Norix Group Inc., in 2010 to research the role color plays in the safe operation of correctional facilities and behavioral health centers. More in-depth information specifically about the psychological influence of color and behavioral healthcare facility design can be found by reading the full report.

Car Rentals is a Must For Every Traveler

The Gold Coast is an ideal holiday destination for you and your family. It has everything that can make your holiday down under a memorable one. The Gold coast is arguably the best tourist destination in Australia with almost 10 million tourists enjoying its fabulous surf beaches, unparalleled theme parks and dense rainforests every year.

The most visited tourist spot in the Gold Coast is Surfers Paradise. The place offers you with many entertainment options to explore. You can indulge in various exciting activities like surfing, jet skiing, fishing and parasailing during your trip to Surfers Paradise. Apart from these, Surfers paradise is also well known for its active nightlife and unmatched facilities for beach volleyball, golf and bungee jumping.

Along with the surfers paradise, you will find many other tourist attractions. The American Style Theme Parks are few of them. These parks have in stored some of the most exciting options for you and your family. Dreamworld, Movieworld and Wet n’ Wild are the three most famous theme parks in Gold Coast. While planning a trip to these parks, make sure that you have ample time in your hand because these parks are too big and too wonderful to be done with in a single day.

Gold coast is also the home of some of the most incredible architectural masterpieces. The Q1 Building (world’s tallest residential building), Gold Coast Arts Centre, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum are the finest examples. You can’t even afford to miss out the attractions like Tropical Fruit Farm, Sea World and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, during your trip to Gold Coast.

Car rentals gold coast is one of the ways to witness and admire the real beauty of all the tourist attractions. By renting a car, you can visit all these places at your own will. There are many car rentals options that are available for you in Gold Coast. You can go for one way car rental plan, which includes picking the car up from one place and dropping it to the other location. Generally, this plan is preferred by people, who hire cars between airport locations. Another one can be two way rental, which is normally taken up by tourists.

During peak seasons, you might also get some bonus or special offers on your car rental plan. In spite of the plan you choose, make sure that you negotiate with the car rental company.

After all, at the end of the day, it is your money!

No Fax No Teletrack Payday Loan – The Most Widely Searched Keywords In The Cyber World

No fax no teletrack payday loan are today the most widely searched for keywords on the internet. Availing a no teletrack or a telecheck advance is the most convenient way of organizing funds even with a bad credit history.

Gone are the days when no body was ready to finance a person with bad credit record. Now if you are willing to apply for a no fax, no teletrack pay day loan, numerous financiers will come forward to finance you. All you need to do is surf the internet to look out for options that are available then it is just a little paperwork. Just compare the finance quotes of different companies and shortlist the finance companies that suit your need of funds.

About Pay Day Loans

Payday loans are the most favored advance options now days which help a debtor to handle a financial urgency even with a record of bad credit history. No fax no teletrack payday loans assures peace of mind to a person even with a poor credit record that his need will not be turned down in his hour of need.

These loans are usually short term loans which handle an urgent need without teletracking. This is really beneficial for someone with a bad credit. You can file your application for this loan on the internet. The main advantageous point of these advances is that it is sanctioned to the person within 24 hrs, or even less, so, a debtor can start immediately using the funds towards fulfilling his requirements.

About The Teletrack System:

In general, Teletrack is the system that is used to examine the financial and credit record of the debtor’s account which can expose all the flaws of the debtor’s credit history. These drawbacks can deter him from being eligible for a loan. By applying for the no teletrack loans, one can be assured that there will be no need to fax any documents to the financier that are related to his credit details.

Pay day loan companies impart immediate cash for a short period as against normal loan companies’ long and lengthy procedures. These agencies charge a higher rate due to higher risk factor and no demand of collateral or security.

Benefits In Short

The main advantage of this loan is that the money will be transferred immediately to your savings account upon the approval of your application form and you can start using the funds as per your needs. Thus, these loans serve many purposes like peace of mind, no teletracking and immediate disbursal.

Medical Equipment Marketplace

The medical equipment marketplace is replete with broad selections of equipment and supplies for medical, dental, and beauty salon equipment. There are several websites devoted to supplying such items. Trade networks exist within social commerce climates that constantly move products in this category every hour of every day. It is a highly competitive market and the information provided regarding the products is sometimes reliable and in other situations it is unreliable.

Within this market it is important to know certain facts. In order to learn these facts, you might have to critically shop around and ask many questions. When you do this, you will find contradictory information as well as useful information. You will see that some businesses selling these products are reliable and others are not. Ultimately it is confusing. One of the best companies that I have seen is Crystal Medical http://www.crystalmedical.co.uk.

Crystal Medical has a special niche in the medical equipment marketplace. They offer an exceptional variety of products in many categories including dental, medical, surgical, opthamalic, nursing, homecare, veterinary, pharmaceutical, and software categories. All of the products they offer are of high quality. Their dental equipment line is comprehensive and takes quality seriously.

Perhaps one of their best features is the flexible payment plans. With Crystal Medical, you may purchase medical equipment, dental equipment, and beauty salon equipment outright or you may rent the products on agreement for nominal fees. They have their payment plans set up in such a way that the equipment you purchase can pay for itself with added profit. Often these upgrades in equipment yield better business profits, easily offsetting the cost of the equipment itself.

Uncategorizedly, there are other organizations that offer similar equipment. You should research those as well. I believe you will discover that Crystal Medical offers the best products and the most practical payment plans. Considering the fact that they offer a 5 year warranty on all of the products they sell, it is a deal worth considering. Advance the technology of your healthcare practice with a reliable company and you will be assured better quality and cost.

Santorini Car Hire

Renting a car in Santorini can give you that extra security and freedom that will make your holiday to Santorini from being good, to becoming exciting.

Before you start your visit to Santorini, it is always important to decide on the places you long to see. If you are sure about which places you would like to see, it would be sensible to reserve your holiday previously, this also goes for hiring a car in Santorini. Many car hire agencies in Santorini offer cheaper bookings for travelers that book weeks in advance; you can even claim back up to 30% or even up to 50% if you are reserving during the weekend. Taking a trip during the off peak season means that you will be able to get a discount on your overall holiday, this also means that car rental during this period is at its cheapest.

If you are renting a car from Isl-Santorini Airport, there are many things you will need to think about if you want your rental to run relaxingly. One of the most important to remember to bring both your driving license (and of course your passport!) with you, you need to own a valid license and an International Driving permit (IDP). It is necessary that you keep your passport to hand and also your IDP with you at all times when you are on the road.

With a car rental in Santorini, you will be able to travel around the whole of this mini island, from its picturesque beaches, to the diverse settings especially the views of its volcano. Although the two popular beach towns of Kamari and Perissa are very close, the mountains between them means that you will need to drive around the mountain as there is no road connecting the two small beach towns. The small towns of Oia and Fira are unusually built into the side of a cliff! This, as well as the Minoan ruins in Akrotiri are all easy to drive to in your hired car.

If you are looking to hire a car in Santorini, there are many rental agencies spread along the islands, providing visitors many choices, from luxury range of cars to the more cost-effective cars. If you settle on hiring a car, you will have the freedom to create your own travel plans that suits you and your family. Even though a small Island, to enjoy you stay in Santorini, book with a car rental agency to make your vacation a more memorable experience.

How to Shop For Your Once in a Lifetime Wedding Dress

He proposed, you said yes. The wedding planning is in full gear and its time to shop for your wedding dress. Your wedding dress is the most memorable and expensive dress you will ever purchase. Here is some practical advice to make your shopping trip fun and let you know what to expect.

Make an appointment to try on wedding dresses. Some bridal salons don’t require them, but an appointment will guarantee you the individual attention of a bridal consultant and space in the dressing room.

Time your shopping trip to your best advantage. If you shop on a weekday afternoon, you will get the most attention and you will not be competing with a lot of other brides like you would on weekends. You also get more time to shop.

You will get the best deals if you shop in November and December when the bridal salons are slow and new merchandise is arriving. There will be more sales and more incentives to buy because they need to clear out stock to make room for new stock that is arriving. Wedding dresses arrive in cycles, with the late fall and early winter being the time the manufactures ship out new merchandise.

Don’t shop too early, if your wedding is two years away and you are not prepared to buy, stay home and surf the net for ideas. The styles will change and your idea of your dream dress may change, along with your weight and wedding plan. The style may also be discontinued by the manufacturer.

Don’t shop too late. Wedding dresses should be ordered 9 months to a year in advance. The manufacturers take 16 to 20 weeks to fashion your dress because of all the hand work that is done on the dress. You also need to allow transportation time and time to have alterations done. If you shop at the last minute, you will risk major disappointment. You will either have to buy off the rack or pay the manufacturer extra for rushing your dress.

Shop prepared. This should not even have to be mentioned., Wear underwear on your shopping trip. Wear clean underwear and be freshly showered or risk major embarrassment. Some salons will send you home to shower or come back with underwear and who can blame them? You are trying on expensive white dresses! And if you don’t wear underwear, you’ll be standing in the dressing room buck naked. If you are uncomfortable, you consultant will be doubly uncomfortable.

Bring along a strapless bra if you have one and a pair of heels to get a feel for how the gown will look on you.

Don’t shop with a posse. Shop with someone you trust, your mom, your sister, your best friend. Don’t shop with your entire wedding party. Too many people means a lot of confusion for you and your consultant. Too many opinions will make you crazy. Are they giving you their true opinion, or picking out a dress they would wear to their own wedding? Invite your friends to see your choice after you’ve made your choice. They’ll be more interested after you’ve chosen your dress. Sure, a huge shopping trip sounds like fun, but you’ll totally regret it when you leave exhausted, confused and aggravated.

Don’t try to cram too many shopping appointments in one day. Trying on wedding dresses is exhausting. You’ll be standing up in heels for a long time. Some of the dresses are very heavy. Pretty soon you’ll be suffering from white blur, a wedding term that means that all the dresses are starting to look alike. Limit your appointments to no more than two a day and take time in between to grab something to eat and drink. The only way you can be on top of your dress shopping game is to be fueled up, hydrated and relaxed. Its going to be a long day!

Shop with an open mind and a good attitude. You have a dress etched into your mind. You are closing yourself to dresses that may be more flattering on your figure, cost less money and be THE dress. Be open and receptive to different necklines, body styles and fabrics. You may leave with the dress still etched in your mind, but you may just find THE dress if you stop telling yourself that you are picky. By constantly reinforcing your pickiness, you’ll make yourself and your shopping companion crazy. Bridal consultants are trained and experienced in finding dresses that make the most of your figure and hide the parts that need to be hidden. Stop whining and listen, you’ll be amazed at how fabulous you can look if you just open your mind and adjust your attitude.

What to expect when shopping for your wedding dress. Expect to be warmly welcomed into the bridal salon and meet your consultant. Your dress consultant will ask you some questions about your wedding. They’ll ask you about the type of wedding, the formality of the wedding and your wedding dress budget. They aren’t being nosy. They need to help you choose a dress from a mind boggling selection of dress styles. You can’t try everything on in the store, its physically impossible. They also need an idea of your dress budget, so you don’t fall in love with a dress that is out of your price range. If you want to see dresses under a thousand dollars or under five hundred dollars, tell them honestly to avoid a lot of disappointment on your part.

You will be shown styles, feel free to say no to anything you don’t like. Be honest, you will not like everything and it will help your consultant pull more dresses that are in line with what looks best on you and you like.

You will be helped try on the dresses. Dressing yourself in a bridal salon is difficult, so expect to be helped on and off with the dress, in addition to zipping the dress.

You will be asked more questions, for example, do you feel comfortable in this style?

Your consultant will categorize your dresses by the dresses you like, the maybes and the definite no way. You might want to retry the dresses you like to cut down on your selections. Your consultant will keep the dress style on file so when you return, the can find the style.

If you are uncomfortable in the style, its a no. If you feel overwhelmed in a style, its a no. If you feel fat in a style, its a no.

And above all, do NOT be pressured into buying a dress by anyone. If you feel pressured, gracefully say you’ll be back to try it on once your mind is cleared. Don’t buy anything from pressure. Buy the dress because you love it and its THE dress!