Quiet, the best medicine?

29 November 2018
Hospital, hallway, healthcare,  shutterstock_352316315

New research from King’s College London and University of the Arts London that has found noise in hospitals is getting worse, with excessive noise levels proving to be damaging to both patients and staff. “Even in intensive care units, which cater for the most vulnerable patients, noise levels over 100dB have been measured, the equivalent of loud music through headphones,” said Dr Andreas Xyrichis from King's College, lead author of the report. 

The research has highlighted that increasing noise in hospitals can impact patients’ ability to rest, heal and recover and that it has been linked to the development of ICU psychosis, hospitalisation-induced stress, increased pain sensitivity, high blood pressure and poor mental health.

This new study comes hot on the heels of the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) Environmental Noise Guidelines, which points to strong evidence on the detrimental impact of noise on health, particularly cardiovascular disease. The report estimates that at least 15% of Europe’s population will have their health impacted by noise pollution. Alongside making recommendations to limit noise from different sources, including road traffic and air travel, the WHO has suggested a range of interventions policy-makers should consider to mitigate the impact of noise, including insulating buildings. 

The choice of material in our homes, workplaces, hospitals and schools, can make a significant difference to the experience of noise from internal and external sources, in turn impacting on the health and wellbeing of the buildings’ users. 

Amongst other things, ROCKWOOL insulation is renowned for its excellent acoustic properties with its open wool structure making it ideal for absorbing and regulating noise. We are specialists in mitigating the impact of noise through good design in the built environment and have been putting this into practice recently by teaming up with the BRE and Loughborough University to open a dementia-friendly demonstration home that promotes independent living for dementia sufferers across the country. 

Aiming to provide new information on how to support those living with dementia, the property – which is based at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford – is designed to demonstrate what’s needed to enable dementia suffers to remain in their own specially adapted homes for longer, improving their health, well-being and quality of life, and reducing expensive care home costs for families.  

Studies have shown that high noise levels can be problematic for people with dementia, resulting in sleep deprivation, agitation, confusion and fear. ROCKWOOL sound insulation has been installed on the walls, roof and between the floors of the demonstration home to help manage the internal and external noise and create optimal acoustic environment for those living there.  

Find out more about this project at the BRE website.