Hospital / Healthcare Acoustics

Sound affects us both physiologically and psychologically and noise, which can be defined as “unwanted sound”, can increase heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. Pleasant sounds help create a sense of well-being and 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 and such conditions are key to healing.

Good acoustic design therefore brings other benefits in terms of patient and staff comfort and morale, as well as improved efficiency and usability of equipment.

Hospital acoustics (or healthcare acoustics) are governed by HTM08-01. the document provides criteria and guidance on a range of subjects, all designed to ensure any new build health facility is acoustically comfortable, and provides the required levels of comfort and privacy.

The document recommends acoustic criteria for:

  • noise levels in rooms – both from mechanical services within the building and from noise coming from outside. It is important to create an acoustic environment that allows rooms to be used for resting, sleeping, treatment, consultation and concentration. There are also statutory limits for noise levels that individuals can be exposed to whilst working;
  • external noise levels – noise created by the healthcare building and operation should not unduly affect those that live and work around it;
  • sound insulation between rooms – allows rooms to exist side by side. Noisy activities should not interfere with the requirements of adjacent rooms, and private conversations should not be overheard outside the room. The guidance given now allows for raised voices being commonly expected for hearing-impaired patients and staff;
  • impact sound insulation – prevents footfall noise of people walking over rooms interfering with the use of rooms below;
  • room acoustics – guidance is given on quantities of acoustically-absorbent material to provide a comfortable acoustic environment;
  • audio systems – announcements to patients, visitors and staff should be intelligible;
  • audiology facilities – without proper acoustic conditions the hearing-test facilities cannot function (see Health Building Note 12-01 Supplement C – ‘ENT and audiology clinics’);
  • vibration caused by plant, medical equipment and activities should not affect the use of the building. Some medical equipment is sensitive to vibration, and so are people.

Through close liaison with your architect we acoustically model your development room by room to comply with HTM08-01 guidance and BREEAM accreditation (as required). We provide full and detailed reporting including material quantity calculations.

On completion, we can provide the pre-completion testing and further reporting to get the job signed off.

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