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Acoustics in Healthcare Environments – Notes from IOA Conference

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On Tuesday June 16th around 50 delegates participated in a conference in Manchester called “Acoustics in Healthcare Envrionments”. The conference, organised by the Institute of Acoustics in the UK, was hosted by Adrian Popplewell, Ramboll UK. Seven papers were presented during the day. One of the speakers, Anthony Thomas of Ecophon UK, wrote some notes especially for Acoustic Bulletin. Please click on the link below to read them.

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HTM08-01 – The new design guide – Richard Budd, SRL
Richard explained how the new Guidance document was produced to give achievable acoustic results in healthcare facilities in a practical, informative document. He stressed that the HTM is not law, and would only be mandatory when the document was written into a construction contract. He strongly recommended an Acoustic Statement be produced for every project, and that derogation should be avoided.
Research into hospital acoustics – review and overview – Professor Bridget Shield, London South Bank University.
Bridget commented that research articles are predominantly from Healthcare, rather than Acoustics, journals, and undertaken by HC staff with little knowledge of acoustics. She noted that there is a lack of UK studies, although the LSBU’s MARU, in collaboration with Acoustics Group, are currently researching Acoustic Design for Inpatient Facilities in Hospitals. She commented that Design of Infection Control is one of a number of factors affecting acoustic design in hospitals.
Sonic issues and resolutions for varied patient groups – Richard Mazuch, Nightingale Associates
Richard expanded presentation topics to include how healing within various patient groups can be affected by (positive) sound, eg music, and well as other sensory interventions (smell, light, colour, etc), and explained how negative sounds (noise) and other inappropriate conditions can have detrimental effects in patient outcomes.
Design of restorative environments for healthcare using the Tranquility Rating Assessment Tool – Greg Watts, University of Bradford
Greg defined tranquility, and explained some of the research he and his team had undertaken. He identified important factors, and gave examples of physiological benefits of moderating factures. He explained how perceived tranquility is affected by soundscape, landscape and moderating factors, and discussed the practical application of his tranquility prediction tool.
Effects of non-acoustics factors on healthcare acoustics – Michael Phiri, University of Sheffield
Michael identified non-acoustic factors, including cleaning regimes and infection control, which impact building acoustics, and evaluated the impact of some of these factors. He highlighted a number of noise-generating items and activities, and stressed the need for the development of a framework which recognises the interrelationships between acoustics and other design considerations. He stated the need for greater involvement of acoustic consultants at the critical stages of the building process – both pre- and post project.
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Front Row (from left to right): Richard Budd, Anthony Thomas, Michael Phiri, Rosemary Glanville
Research into the effect of the sound environment on staff and patients in healthcare facilities – Anthony Thomas, Saint-Gobain Ecophon
Anthony demonstrated that despite a growing awareness of hospital noise it is a major and growing problem in the UK. Using research examples, he talked about the negative effects a noisy environment can have, such as longer patient recovery due to sleep disturbance, and an increased need for medication in post-operative recovery rooms. Anthony also referred to studies showing how the more vulnerable patient groups,ie ICU and, in particular NICU, can suffer significant long-term physiological effects when exposed to high noise levels. In contrast, research indicates how improved acoustic conditions can reduce help patient readmission rates and improve staff morale and efficiency
The experience of using HTM08-01 in smaller healthcare facilities – Philip Hankin, Cole Jarman
Referring to projects such as local GPP centres and LIFT schemes, Philip looked some of the issues facing an acoustician He explained how the document has benefits in providing clarity and good advice on compliance, as well as tying in well with BREEAM Healthcare. On the negative side, he mentioned a lack of guidance for audiology and how for example insufficient co-ordination between HTM08-01 and Infection Control might be used to argue against absorbent finishes. He has found the document easy to use when deign issues are ready accepted by the projects design team.

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