European Union of Private Hospitals

Nuova Villa Bellombra, Bologna, Italy

Therapeutic Architecture

Nuova Villa Bellombra was one of the three finalists for the European Private Hospital Awards (EPHA) 2022 in the “Green Hospital” category.

1-The new rehabilitative hospital complex

The main architectural, structural and functional peculiarities of the new hospital complex Nuova Villa Bellombra, which has earned the nickname of Parc-Hospital, consist:

  • Disposition of both the hospitalization rooms and the therapeutic spaces on a single floor (that means complete abolition of any vertical barrier)
  • Four spacious and equipped gyms (one reserved to robotic rehabilitation and virtual reality assisted rehabilitation)
  • Presence of a highly innovative swimming pool
  • Possibility of being in a natural context (green surface near to 50% of total)
  • Maximum visual accessibility
  • Only single rooms with private garden.

The Italian National Prevention Plan 2020-2025[1], in line with the UN Agenda 2030[2], aims to adopt a combined economic, social and environmental approach that impacts on the well-being of people and the development of society, starting with the promotion of individual and collective health and the overall sustainability of the national health system.
WHO “One Health”[3] policy means that health is the result of an harmonic development of human beings, nature and environment!
Not secondary aims we intend to reach, in accordance with Italian PNP, are:

  • to promote health literacy,
  • to increase the interaction between individual persons and the health service (engagement), through relations based on trust, awareness and responsibility (empowerment),
  • to spread this approach to welfare in each setting and at every age.

2-The rehabilitation path

First of all, the leadership of Villa Bellombra in the field of rehabilitation (both for clinical practice and scientific research) is long-standing and absolutely recognized in Bologna metropolitan area, connected, as it is, with several National and International context. The rehabilitation practice has been developed following a comprehensive biopsychosocial approach[4],[5].

The main features of rehabilitation projects in Villa Bellombra always are in fact:
personalized (tailored for each patient),
comprehensive (holistically approached).

In each intervention area, will be emphasized correlation between the personal needs and the environment reality, both from the point of view of the practitioner and the patient:
The specialists in Internal Medicine aim at the following goals:  optimization of co-morbidity (so frequent and generally various), recover from complications of pathologic events or surgical interventions and the best secondary prevention.
The neuropsychological and speech service has the task of identifying and deepening cognitive, communicative and executive functions, in order to reach the highest possible compensation for the best family and social return.
The role of the psychology service is to enhance the patient’s attendance and his motivational involvement for his best recovery. Furthermore, the service has the task of providing specific sup-port to caregivers, family members and health professionals and plays a pivotal role in spreading ecologic culture.

In each case  New Villa Bellombra,  with its  context, simple and genuine, usable and enjoyable, will be able to:
– enhance the psycho-emotional resources in the rehabilitation process,
– encourage the recruitment of residual energy,
– stimulate the best compliance to engage patients and professionals.
The chinesitherapic area will continue its traditional physical training in gyms based on highest professional skills and will be empowered by the rehabilitation in water and by the robotic rehabilitation, feasible under the directions of the physiatrist, all in a paradigmatic fusion of profess-sional expertise, green immersion and nature-friendly technology.

3-Green culture and comprehensive rehabilitation

It is well known that environmental impact of health services is outstanding.
They strongly contribute to the climate change and negatively affect human health.
The ecological impact of hospitals, in terms of activities, technologies, transports and waste product disposal, unfortunately amounts to 5-8% of the total in Italy.
The innovative context of New Villa Bellombra is going to imprint each phase of the rehabilitation pathway with a progressive naturistic immersion which leads to implement health literacy, aware-ness, and engagement.

How to make this change permanent, beyond hospitalization?
We have in mind two complementary strategies:

  • to institute a Cultural Pole which aims to focus attention on the themes of relationships between people and with nature, with periodic meetings open to families, patients, citizens and with contributions from experts of different fields of knowledge and practice.
  • to promote the constitution of Internal Operational Units (“us” is NOI in Italian, the acro-nimous of Nuclei Operativi Interni), made up of patients, relatives and operators to raise awareness on the issue with highly interactive and proactive psycho-educative strategies: the goal is to carry forward, in day life, the new vision based on ecological, environmental, relational components (human and otherwise) for well-being recovery and health promo-tion.

We will make use of specific tools to evaluate the changes, come about in both patients and family members, that have occurred after the daily experience during the hospitalization.
We will so verify the relative variations from pre-hospitalization concepts of environment and sustainability to new actions, behaviors, habits and views acquired during the hospitalization.

  • First of all, we have chosen an innovative questionnaire[6] focused on negative prompts, (since people tend to automatically answer “yes”, as most surveys on environmental consciousness use positively-phrased questions or prompts, we wanted to remove the “yes byas”). Prompts investigate 5 specific areas: personal responsibility, attitude towards environmental, environmental awareness in daily life, caring about perceptions of others and environmental information.
  • Then, through a semi-structured interview, we aim to identify which initiatives contribute to a change in the awareness of more ecological conception of the environment. In particular, it will be evidenced the role of human interactions and relationships in promoting the change and, finally, the experience of being pro-active in changes.
  • Finally, we will use a satisfaction questionnaire that will accede us to collect information concerning the “green experience” regarding the personal, social and collective impact.


  1. Ministry of Health, Italy (2020) National prevention plan 2020-25. https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/drugs-library/ministry-health-italy-2020-national-prevention-plan-2020-25_it
  2. UN Agenda 2030. CoE. https://www.coe.int/en/web/programmes/un-2030-agenda
  3. WHO Europe One Health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/europe
  4. Greenwood, R. J., McMillan, T. M., Barnes, M. P., & Ward, C. D. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of neurological rehabilitation. Psychology Press.
  5. Bowen, C., Palmer, S., & Yeates, G. (2018). A relational approach to rehabilitation: Thinking about relationships after brain injury.
  6. Hiramatsu, A., Kurisu, K., & Hanaki, K. (2015). Environmental consciousness in daily activities measured by negative prompts. Sustainability, 8(1), 24.