How can the implementation of acoustic wellness within NHS facilities work to reduce noise in hospitals, alleviate pressures on staff, and ultimately provide a higher quality of care? Here, Steven Leslie, Consultancy Manager at acoustic consultancy KP Acoustics Group, explores the multifold benefits of acoustic wellness strategies in curating soundscapes that work to promote wellbeing within public care settings across the UK.
When it comes to healthcare and wellbeing, we are all abundantly aware of the importance of hygiene, the use of space and movement in and around a building and how such factors can influence quality of care. However, a consideration that doesn’t immediately come to mind for many is acoustics and the flow of sound. What may be surprising, is how much of an impact on wellbeing the ‘sound’ of a healthcare setting has.
Causing sleep disruption, cognitive impairment and noise-induced stress, noise in healthcare settings is more important to both patients and staff than you may think. In fact, through a battle of the senses, noise is perceived ten times more intensely than light. As a result, considering acoustic wellness solutions is essential when planning and building healthcare facilities for the future.
As the NHS, arguably one of the UK’s most cherished institutions, celebrates its 75th birthday and looks to the future of healthcare, shaping wellbeing for generations to come, there is a strong case to be made about the importance of shaping soundscapes in healthcare facilities to facilitate the curation of healing environments. In hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, the implementation of acoustic wellness strategies within healthcare settings can work to not only reduce noise in hospitals but alleviate pressures on NHS staff, and ultimately provide a higher quality of care.
Supporting a healing environment and improving patient recovery
From medical equipment to heavy patient footfall, healthcare facilities – specifically hospitals – can generate high levels of intrusive noise and vibration, unwantedly creating a stressful environment for those within it. High levels of stress have been linked to prolonged patient recovery, yet with the implementation of acoustic wellness strategies, public healthcare settings can begin to combat the onset of noise-induced stress to create a calmer environment that works better to support healing and patient recovery.
With the power of acoustic solutions for multifunctional spaces such as sound insulation, reverberation control, and layout and zoning considerations, noise reduction in hospitals and public healthcare settings can be achieved. This will not only work to improve a patient’s recovery time but also positively influence their overall experience to reestablish trust in the UK’s public health sector.
Enhancing staff wellbeing and reducing medical errors
With staff shortages and poor management listed as key concerns surrounding the future of the NHS, creating a healthier working environment should be an essential consideration for safeguarding the future of public healthcare in the UK.
Incorporating acoustic wellness strategies into healthcare facilities can help to enhance staff wellbeing, combat excessive noise for better communication between professionals and patients and ultimately, improve the provision of care.
By controlling the physical characteristics of sound with acoustic wellness techniques and creating a healthy acoustic equilibrium, it is possible to reduce the presence of obtrusive noise to achieve a quieter working environment. This in turn can help to reduce stress and fatigue among healthcare professionals, leading to improved performance and reduced medical errors through clarity of communication, as well as improved job satisfaction.
Although the benefits of incorporating acoustic wellness solutions in healthcare facilities are multifold, executing such changes within public healthcare settings across the UK is no simple task. With lack of funding considered a primary concern regarding the future of the NHS, prioritising the implementation of acoustic wellness strategies within limited budget allocations may prove difficult, despite the ability of such techniques to contribute to long-term savings in the future.
However, by designing and developing newly planned public healthcare facilities with acoustic wellness principles in mind from the earliest stage of development, it is possible to curate patient-centred, calming, and efficient healing environments that ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes and staff satisfaction that help reignite the nation’s faith in our public healthcare system.
KP Acoustics is a full-spectrum acoustics consultancy. Get in touch with an experienced consultant by calling 020 3820 5564 or visiting kpacoustics.com.