Are you stressing your residents, patients and staff with the ‘Evil Axis’ of waiting room soundscapes?
“Do no harm.” Well, that’s the least a facility should strive for in caregiving. Yet every ill-conceived sound environment causes stress to nervous systems, heightens anxiety, and can cause ill-health, poor work performance, emotional negativity and a variety of other health problems.
Studies show a link between restorative environments and hospital recovery rates, stress reduction, longevity, and pain relief. If you manage any type of healthcare or lifestyle facility, from a dentist’s office to a hospice, from a retirement community to a nursing home, you need to pay attention.
The research is definitive, and a managed soundscape is a powerful tool to create a restorative environment. Waiting rooms, treatment rooms, common areas, and private care rooms, should have managed soundscapes to support a restorative, healing, calming environment. Radio stations that play oldies from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s etc. have their place – in the vintage clothing store – not in your waiting room.
I understand the difficulties in managing a facility of any size, and sound environment is easy to overlook. It’s difficult to motivate staff, maintain education, keep physical plant in shape, deal with regulations, motivate fund-raisers, process patients through your facility and on, and on…
But there are a few basic elements that are common to every environment within your facility: the (HVAC), visual aesthetic and soundscape. Failure to get any of these elements right and comfort levels fall. When AC or heating are inadequate, the negative effects appear dramatically. When a poor soundscape is present the effects are not as apparent – but can be more damaging over time.
Do you have a store or coffee shop where you love to hang out? Or conversely, place that drives you away and you don’t go back? Retail market research shows that if the soundscape is intentional and matches the demographic of the customer, the store or restaurant has a much higher success rate.
We’ve all walked into a store where the sound was like nails on a chalkboard and we did a quick U-turn and felt good to get out. With the research, the data, and the recent knowledge of the effects of sound on our physiology, why do we still walk into a healthcare waiting room featuring one of the ‘Evil Axis’ of bad sound? OK, here they are:
- the mindless radio station playing on poor equipment (often inflicted by the tyrannical office manager)
- or worse an emotional train-wreck TV show like Dr. Phil or Judge Judy
- or most awful of all - CABLE NEWS
These sources are the ‘Evil Axis’ of bad sound in waiting rooms. If your facility is ‘afflicted’, don’t worry we can fix this!
OK, you’re not all musicians or acousticians and you may not think you have ‘ears to hear’. It doesn’t matter what you think, sound is affecting your nervous system, brain, immune system, endocrine system, respiratory rate and other body systems over which you have no conscious control. Just because you can’t smell carbon monoxide doesn’t mean you won’t probably keel over if unknowingly exposed.
When soundscape is intentional and matches the needs of the facility, people feel better, have less anxiety, improve their work performance and have more positive experiences within that facility.
Years ago, I arrived to play at the bedside for one of my first patients, and when I entered the room and took out my guitar, I was struck with the continuous cacophony of noise that surrounded my friend who struggled to breathe with advanced emphysema. Staff sauntering in and out of the room, banging trash cans, more staff hanging out in the hallway talking about their weekend, the equipment was noisy, the paging system was intrusive, and the other patient and visitor were arguing. It was terrible, but I began to play.
Within minutes a new environment settled over the room. Staff stopped talking, everyone became more conscious of their presence in the room, the other patient fell asleep and my friend began to breathe with less effort, more deeply and his face transformed from fear to a smile. I knew I was on to something. Thus began my personal transformational journey to learn and then teach how to create healing environments with sound and music.
In my work as a communication system designer for Broadway, TV networks, theaters, sport facilities, universities and the occasional nuclear power plant, I understand how critical managed sound is for collaborative work groups to function safely and professionally.
I combined this skill with my training as a clinical musician to help healthcare facilities clean up their sound environment and get staff on the same page with regards to sound and music within the facility. The results are happier, healthier residents and patients, improved staff performance and a more appealing space in which to live and work.
I want to offer you two opportunities to take command of your facility soundscape:
Soundscape Coaching Call with Your Team
Get a full hour of personal consultation with me (James) via phone or Skype with you and/or your key staff. In that time, we will discuss modalities for creating healing environments and managed soundscapes. We will define your goals, I’ll answer questions regarding the pre-requisite course The Healer’s Visit. We will confirm that your staff understands the objectives and how their new awareness and techniques can immediately change the soundscape in your facility. Supplementary materials include a transcript of our call, and recommended resources for future changes (i.e. zoned sound systems, acoustic treatments, wearable pagers, etc.)
Topics covered include:
- Review key concepts from The Healer’s Visit
- Noise Abatement – Become Mindful
- Soundscape Basics
- Sound System Recommendations and Best Practices
- Q and A Session
Cost - $497 (credit card accepted)
Take control of your facility soundscape today! (LINK BUTTON)
Onsite Survey and Consultation Visit
I (James) will personally visit your facility to assess and recommend soundscape changes that will enhance staff and patient/resident experiences. This custom solution can maximize the benefits of a managed soundscape throughout your facility. I can facilitate an onsite meeting tailored to meet specific questions and raise staff awareness.
- Written assessment and recommendations
- Concept drawing of audio playback system if needed
- Bill of Materials for new playback system and/or changes to existing system
- Acoustic treatment recommendations/specifications as needed
- Recommendations on how to create and fund a live therapeutic music program and find qualified clinical musicians.
Cost - $3,997 (Includes all domestic travel expenses) credit card accepted, or proforma invoice upon request.
Take control of your facility soundscape today and schedule your onsite consultation visit.
Email [email protected]
Like all improvements there will be costs to bring about changes to your soundscape. But consider that improvements to soundscape are minimal when compared to other infrastructure and they work in your facility 24/7. The improvements you make will have immediate positive effects upon staff and patients/residents, and with more positive patient experiences, recommendations and patient retention will increase.
I’'ll leave you with one suggestion. The next time you walk into a new room experience, (store, office, restaurant) listen intently. How many sounds do you hear? Which ones are loud vs. soft? Are they regular or random? Do any of the sounds or noise obstruct the purpose of your visit? (Like a restaurant that is so noisy you have trouble hearing the person across the table.)
Now consider that all these sounds are affecting your physiology, and your brain is probably working hard trying to discern useful information/data from all the ‘junk’. After you practice this a few times, you’ll raise a new awareness of soundscapes and develop your favorite spaces. There’s a reason that retail stores spend $gazillions trying to ‘dial in’ their sonic space to separate you from your money. Because it works!
I look forward meeting with you and your staff in person or via phone, so we can transform your facility soundscape.
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