Living in a Noisy World

Yes acoustics again!!  Acoustics is becoming the major issue in many residential aged care facilities.

Quite often we are unaware of how the sound environment impacts on everyone’s well-being. A bad acoustic environment can lead to difficulties in hearing causing feelings of pressure, irritation and anger for both resident and staff leading to the risk of conflict, error and overall stress.   

So why are we not doing more about it? 

The reality is trying to get a better acoustic environment currently in residential aged care is a huge challenge. Why? One of the major contributors to better acoustics is carpet and that is being substituted for vinyl.  We understand why that is the case and there is a trend towards the introduction of flooring such as acoustic vinyls but sadly I believe they don’t cut the mustard!!

So what are we doing to tackle this issue? Acoustic ceilings of course work very well but are expensive and are mainly used in dining/lounge areas of new buildings. Rarely are they installed in corridors which can be a major area for noise conflict. 

At de Fiddes Design we believe so much more can be done in this specialised area and we have recently been exploring how technology can help with acoustics.

Noise cancellation technology or Adaptive Sound Masking Systems have been available for some time.  The idea behind the technology is to actively reduce noise pollution through the principle of eliminating waves of noise with other waves going in the opposite direction. 

This type of technology can be incredibly expensive but like all technology new things are being released all the time and at much better prices.

The systems range from small devices that can adhere directly onto a window, bubble technology that creates a zone of quiet, or an adaptive sound masking system that delivers a low level background sound introduced through speakers. A good sound masking system will increase during busy periods and become more discreet when the environment is calmer. This is because throughout the day conditions change and sound levels fluctuate. You should not be aware of the sound masking but just the relief it provides.

Acoustic Management is definitely not straight forward and the one thing we have learned from investigating this technology is how an over quiet space, when too much noise is removed, can be just as much of a problem as a noisy environment. Noise travels across space and conversations can be heard by everyone. For example, noise created by staff in corridors having a conversation or pushing a trolley can be amplified to the resident in their room trying to sleep.   

Should you like any more information on acoustic technology or ways to improve your acoustics in your residential care home please contact Debbie de Fiddes -

DesignAmy Bosnar