You're planning on opening a nursing home, and you've got a lot of people you need to consult about the process. While acoustical consultant may not be on your list, you should add this professional. Here's the top three reasons their help may be invaluable for nursing home owners:
1. Ambient noise increases stress levels
A number of studies have found a link between a noisy environment and high stress levels. In fact, one study shows that in the presence of ongoing background noise, participants endure increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Stress is not ideal for anyone but especially not elders. Increased stress can exacerbate the process of aging all the way to the cellular level, and it is linked to vision, hearing and memory loss. If you hire an acoustical consultant, they can help reduce the ambient noise in your facility.
Depending on your facility, this may involve adding a dropped ceiling full of soft, sound-absorbing tiles to your facility, or it may involve adding more curtains or changing the shapes of certain rooms. As a result of these modifications, your future residents won't have to live in a noisy stressful environment.
2. Ambient noise makes it hard to hear
In addition to creating a stressful environment, ambient noise can make it hard to hear. This is especially true for elders or people who are already using hearing aids. If the patients in your nursing home cannot hear their healthcare provider, they may miss important information about their medication or other medical needs. As a result, they may not follow instructions correctly, and that could lead to injury or illness. For example, imagine a doctor tells a patient to take two pills. However, the patient mishears the doctor due to the poor acoustics in the place, and he or she takes too many pills.
3. Poor acoustics can hamper patient privacy
In some cases, poor acoustics make it hard to hear, but in other cases, poor acoustics make it too easy to overhear. That can have an impact on patient privacy. Ideally, all of the rooms in your nursing home, especially the private rooms, should be reasonably soundproofed. This prevents residents and guests from overhearing personal details about patients' medical conditions.
If you are still in the design process, an acoustical consultant may advise you to prevent the transfer of noise between rooms by strategically positioning closets between them. Alternatively, if your facility is already built, they may recommend installing sound panels.