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40% of inpatients are bothered by noise at night from patients, 21% by noise from hospital staff
CQC Inpatient Services Survey 2009

Salisbury NHS Trust

Client: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

  • RIBA Stages
    • 7: In Use

What we did

Research has shown that noise in a healthcare environment can have a detrimental effect on both patient and staff well-being. Yet many noise issues in hospitals, healthcare centres and care homes are not just tied to the building fabric; they can also be helped by achieving a low noise culture.

Examples such as the Montefiore Medical Centre in the US and East Kent Hospitals have shown how Silent Hospitals Help Healing (SHHH) campaigns can reduce noise levels through activities, behaviour and equipment. These programmes only really work when staff are fully involved, committed and take ownership of noise and vibration levels within their area of responsibility.

It was on this basis that we worked with Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust on an 8-week noise management pilot study.

The purpose of the study was to:

  • Measure live hospital ward noise levels and compare them to:
    • Recommended WHO standards;
    • Other international standards;
    • Typical noise levels of other NHS Trusts and/or hospital wards
  • Identify the source of high level ward noise;
  • Determine the validity and feasibility of improving the patient experience and staff working conditions by managing noise levels using simple 'SoundSign' technology, backed by statistical data;
  • Evaluate the level of staff commitment and technical support required to run an effective operational noise reduction management programme;
  • Identify best practice procedures that would make a difference to ward noise levels without requiring major capital expenditure from the building budget;
  • Provide evidential deliverables that can demonstrate to stakeholders (such as the Trust's Board and CQC) that improvements have occurred which may be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Acoustic features of this project

We installed a SoundSign device in 3 ward and nurse station locations. One of these 3 locations also had a simultaneous noise measurement sound level meter which provided objective comparable noise data.

The study involved us:

  • Measuring noise levels:
    • Without the visual signal of the SoundSign devices activated;
    • With the visual signs triggered during required quiet period;
    • With the signs' trigger level adjusted based on staff feedback;
    • With the sound level meter moved to an alternative position for comparative measurements in a different environment.
  • Conducting and analysing staff and patient surveys;
  • Implementing any feasible, quick win noise management policies and procedures as a result of the surveys' findings;
  • Analysing the data and reporting on the results, with recommendations for ongoing noise level management and control.

You might also be interested to read our blog post Is noise, or silence, important in healthcare?

The project team

Acoustics: Adnitt Acoustics


  • Cost and duration of the study
  • Patient privacy and treatment


Do you have a similar acoustics requirement for your healthcare project? 

Get in touch with one of our consultants to find out how we can help.

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 020 7099 9735

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