Acoustics in Healthcare
Acoustic design is fundamental to the quality of healthcare buildings and supports safety, health, healing, and well-being.
Acoustics and Well-Being Go Hand in Hand
Sound affects us both physiologically and psychologically. Noise, or “unwanted sound”, can increase heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and even blood cholesterol levels. Conversely, pleasant sounds can help create a sense of well-being. Music can be used to treat depression, to reach autistic people and to calm and relax tense patients. Good acoustic conditions improve patient privacy and dignity, and promote essential sleep patterns. Such conditions are key to healing. Good acoustic design brings benefits regarding patient and staff comfort and morale, as well as improved efficiency and usability of equipment.
A Comprehensive Service
Our global team of specialist acousticians cover every aspect of the discipline in healthcare, including environmental and building acoustics and niche areas such as room acoustics, public address and voice alarm (PAVA), and building vibrations.
Overall, our aims are to prevent noise breaking in from external sources such as traffic, control the noise and vibrations from equipment, to insulate walls and floors to control the transmission of sound between rooms, and to assure audio systems for public announcements can be well heard throughout the space.
Complex Range of Spaces and Activities
Complex hospital buildings require careful, strategic design to address the acoustics in a multitude of different spaces and their uses, ranging from reception areas to hospital wards, and from consulting rooms to operating theatres. Key considerations are to allow for confidentiality in treatment and consulting rooms, to provide restful conditions in wards and bedrooms, to assure good working conditions for staff and to support infection control with the incorporation of easily cleanable surfaces.
At Alder Hey Children’s Health Park in Liverpool, we provided detailed acoustic consultancy services through the design and construction phases right up to completion and commissioning testing.
We also design state-of-the-art facilities with very specific acoustic criteria. For Alder Hey, we provided the detailed specifications for high-performance audiology booths, and at Box Hill Hospital in Victoria, Australia, we were involved in the design of a specialist sleep clinic.
Vibration is a key issue for hospitals due to the presence of sensitive medical equipment, such as MRI scanners. This can be caused by footfall, for example if the MRI scanners are located in a lightweight timber-framed structure.
Great Ormond Street Hospital in London is undergoing major refurbishment while the hospital remains operational. We conducted vibration monitoring and tests in situ and established thresholds to prevent vibration due to neighbouring construction activity from compromising the operation of the medical equipment.
The Benefits of Early-Stage Involvement
We advocate early-stage involvement in any project, engaging with clients and hospital users to understand their requirements and building in options for future flexibility, as hospitals are upgraded or bring in new technologies.
We use computer modelling to enable our clients to understand the acoustics of a space long before designs are finalized and the building has been constructed. By influencing the building layout and the materials used from the outset, we can avoid expensive remedial treatment later in the project, saving time and money in the design of efficient, effective hospitals.