Noises disturb people in healthcare environments: “It can impact their recovery”

Have you ever hear an older person say:  “turn down that noise!” Well, you better turn it down when you do. It turns out that as you get older, your hearing doesnt just get worse, it also gets less resistible to the sounds. According to science, lower noise levels actually have a positive impact on critical care patients.

In a study comparing how young adults and senior citizens judge noise levels of rock music, Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences Donald Fucci found that seniors rated rock music higher on a loudness scale than younger people. “As we get older, our tolerance for loudness is lower”, said Fucci.

Little noises

As many people age, they develop a common hearing loss condition, called Presbycusis, in which hearing gradually deteriorates and certain sounds become distorted. The elderly’s perception of high frequencies diminishes and low frequencies are magnified.

But it´s not just music that can be painful for older ears, little noises at a hospital environment can also be disturbing for the patients. The constant humming and droning of machines, the chatter of nurses and family member and even the soap operas on patient TVs can all impact patients’ recovery. “It can hurt their ears”, said Donald Fucci.


Quiet time

For hospitals, it´s hard to change little noises that just exist, but a recent study shows that even small changes can make a big impact on hospital noise levels. The study, “Quiet Time: A Noise Reduction Initiative in a Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit,” which was published in Critical Care Nurse, lays out noise-reducing initiatives implemented by unit nurses at North Shore University Hospital in New York.

The biggest change that was made in the hospital was the addition of two designated quiet periods each day, one from 3 to 5 a.m. and one from 3 to 5 p.m. During those quiet times, lights were dimmed, whispering was encouraged and environmental noise was reduced or eliminated as much as possible.


Some of the specific methods used to reduce noise and increase patient comfort during quiet times in the unit were:

  • Adjusting the schedules of physical therapists to visit patients before quiet time started
  • Encouraging staff to prioritize before or after quiet times
  • Putting signs on each patient´s door, explaining what and when quiet times are
  • Providing hospitality bags with earplugs and sleep masks to each patient

In the research they also upgraded patient rooms and the central nursing station with smart monitors which helped cut down on unnecessary alarms. These changes were shows to reduce peak noises levels by 10 to 15 decibels in some areas after six months.

How can Foston help?

Foston Europe is able to integrate those typical nursecall systems where the alert goes to a panel with lights or a buzzer and derive those noisy systems to a DECT phone, smartphone app or screen in a way that the sound is not disturbing any patients.

Regardless of the brand or manufacturer from the nursing home systems, our platform is a flexible, versatile, simple and intuitive system which not only optimises the work of the care professionals, but also the living conditions of residents and patients. Our integrations and configurations possibilities are thought in order to not disturb the patients in their healthcare environments.


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