Activity noise halved in Birmingham ward

At Sandwell General Hospital in Birmingham, England, replacing the old, reflective ceiling with a highly sound-absorbent Class A ceiling has reduced noise levels in the corridors of Priory Ward 4 by half. “A major improvement,” according to Andrew Parkin, an acoustics expert at Cundall, a consulting firm.

See the sound propagation animation below.

When Sandwell General Hospital embarked on the project to refurbish Priory Ward 4, Cundall carried out measurements of noise levels – before and after. Prior to the refurbishment, it was quite a noisy environment, since all the surfaces were smooth with hard finishes.

Owing to the constraints of testing in a working hospital environment, ceiling changes were allowed only in the corridor area. Yet this action alone produced a significant improvement in the acoustics in both the corridor and the ward.

“The quite simple and obvious conclusion is that the corridor area got quieter. An important reason is that the sound doesn’t travel as easily as it did before,” explains Andrew Parkin.

“Our report shows that a simple refurbishment can have a quite profound impact. The activity noise level was reduced by up to eight decibels, which is perceived as almost half as loud.”

Read the full interview with Andrew and watch the video about the Sandwell case in the new digital ECO Magazine Healthcare Edition (completely free)

Join the conversation about healthcare sound environments online: #SafeAndSound

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