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 ceiling consisted of imperforate metal tiles, common in older hospitals.
The only absorption came from curtains separating the corridor from the wards.
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.”
noise level was reduced by eight decibels, which is perceived as almost half as loud
Within the refurbished corridor area, the old nurses’ office has been replaced by an open-plan nurses’ station. While improving sightlines and access to patients, this would be expected to be noisier than the previous layout, but noise levels are still lower.
”In the nurses’ station there are people talking, phones ringing, alarms sounding, bins being opened and closed, and so on. Most of these sounds are of short duration and are now reduced at source. The sound gets absorbed more quickly and travels shorter distances.”
Read the full interview with Andrew and watch the video about the Sandwell case
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