To humanize the relation between patient and hospital is also to think about the interaction through sound.
The hearing is always present on my interactions, wherever I am, I put myself as an active listener and pay close attention to every detail on the journey, as a sound strategist or as a client. Since I have two little kids and live on the south of Brazil, I more than often attend hospitals during the winter season. As an example, imagine how many different sounds are produced on a paediatric ward. Many of the sounds manifestations are not consciously noticed but I am sure that they cause a negative impact in various aspects. For an adult the hospital experience is unpleasant, imagine to a child.
Studies made by famous institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, revealed alarming data about the impact of sound in health environments. It is proven that high levels of noise or even silence can bring negative consequences to all agents involved on the hospital experience, this means that patients, family members, doctors and nurses are affected in physical and behaviourally aspect.
A research made by Glasgow Caledonian University about the patient experience, found that 30% of the patients were bothered by noise during the night. A specific research was carried out to identify the main noise sources, they are: Bells to call nurses, alarms, hospital team chatting and laughing, phones, wheels of beds and equipment, snoring from other patients, lights kept on (they do not produce sound, but are listed due to be a bother), noise from doors, agitated patients, steps on the hall. The modern hospital environment is full of noise, sound signals, and a large array of noises that can create an unpleasant feeling or even discomfort in patients or hospital workers. Family members that end up on the nursing station complaining about different things only accentuate the noise pollution. Other interesting fact shows that the lack of sound can also be health harming, it can create negative perceptions such as helplessness, abandonment, demotivation and even depression.
THE CURRENT HOSPITAL ENVIRONMENT IS MUCH MORE COMPLEX, IT HAS HIGHER NOISE VOLUME AND IT IS WAY HARDER TO CONTROL
Florence Nightingale, a British nurse that got famous for being the pioneer on the treatment of war-wounded soldiers, described noise on a care environment as “that which harms the patient”. In that time she was referring to loud steps, chatting, sound which could result in apprehension for the patients, uncertainty, fear, expectations or surprises. Today, the noise in hospitals is measured by its physiologic and psychological consequences: higher breathing rate, higher blood pressure and stress. It is clear when comparing the health systems from the 19th century and 21st century that the uncontrollable ways which sound penetrate on a hospital environment shifted to the worse. Some improvements were made such as acoustic treatment of rooms and halls, especially on clinical areas. Despite this, many other aspects got worse, such as population growth, performance pressure on hospital teams and new technologies. Some psychotic episodes on intensive care units could even be directed linked to
stressing factors from the environment – noise, sleep deprivation and isolation. The cost of sleep deprivation, agitation and stress can be measured by added medication in a certain treatment, longer hospitalized periods for patients and further complications that may arise.
IT IS NOT BY CHANCE THAT ON USA HOSPITALS NOISE REDUCTION IS AMONG THE HIGHEST PRIORITIES TO IMPROVE THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE
A study called The Hospital Project conducted by the Beryl Institute gathered forces to reduce noise in 241 hospitals across the country. Noise is the number one complain by patients. It makes healing slower, increases the perception of pain, which can cause anxiety and stress, also it can create miscommunication between hospital staff, and the sum of all these factors can result in longer hospitalized periods for patients. In 64% of hospitals, the concern for patient satisfaction was evident and the noise reduction appeared as a key point.
On a bigger picture, there is a list of factors that must be observed in order to achieve success in a hospital noise reduction. The first step is to acknowledge noise as a problem to be solved. Following this comes the necessity to form a committee that will investigate the environment, identify the maintenance required and develop a consistent plan. Unfortunately, though, the plan does not get to its last step and this compromises not only the patient experience but also the physical and mental health of everyone who live the hospital
MANAGEMENT BEHAVIOUR AND CULTURAL CHANGE REGARDING THE IMPACT OF SOUND IS POINTED AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE
The recommendation from the “Environmental Agency and World Health Organization” is that the volume on hospitals be kept between 35db and 45db. The acquisition of new equipment by hospitals should observe the sound impact caused by the equipment. Aspects such as acoustic verification of floor should be done due to its high impact on sound atmosphere, configuration of alarms from a medical perspective, the participation of all agents in building the silence culture can significantly contribute to a comfortable environment.
Is necessary to consider all variables to truly create an integral caring experience. Independent of the patient’s age or the area on which he is being treated, even though companies claim to be people orientated, the breakthrough for this sector is to go beyond these claims. This brand behaviour is starting to change gradually in developed countries and little by little, it is making its way to Brazil, as companies seek certifications. This movement will bring a better human oriented management, it will allow gradually that managers change and enhance their focus towards the people’s well-being.
THERE IS A MINDSET CHANGE HAPPENING WHERE HUMANIZED THE EXPERIENCE WILL CREATE MUCH MORE VALUE
To make people feel better is not an imposition, it is the understanding of what makes them feel good and provide this experience. For this reason is vital that the experience of patients and everyone who integrate the hospital environment be perceived through different angles, listening to hospital staff members, patients, family members, managers, also listening
to their necessities, aspirations, habits, behaviours, values and beliefs. By doing this, every sound occurrence will be positively noted, this will create value to the brand, business and people, and also it will make the hospital experience less impactful and more pleasant to adults and even children on a paediatric emergency ward.
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