Acoustical Considerations for Design-Build Mental and Behavioural Healthcare Facilities
It is widely accepted that good quality healthcare environments are a key driver to patient wellbeing. There is evidence to suggest that acoustical quality may also have an important part in the recovery and treatment of patients suffering mental or behavioural health issues, with poor acoustic conditions seemingly exacerbating negative human-response effects such as irritability, anxiety, stress-related dementia and even lowered immune system symptoms.
While there is a wealth of information, guidance and well-rehearsed best practice for the acoustical design and construction of mainstream healthcare buildings, it is often the case that the acoustical requirements for mental or behavioural health are simply assumed to be the same as for all other patient care facilities. In speaking to users groups, healthcare professionals and researchers it is clear that relying solely on traditional sound isolation or absorption treatments will not necessarily provide acoustical conditions that either promote patient wellbeing or provide sufficient safeguards to protect patient privacy.
The challenges faced by designers, engineers and contractors in achieving an acoustical environment within successful and healthy treatment spaces requires careful consideration by the acoustician, with a delicate balance to be made between acoustic adequacy and patient safety. Building layout, adjacencies and the selection of materials and finishes requires scrutiny so that the completed building reflects not only the needs of patients and healthcare professionals but, which also ensures an efficient and cost-effective design-build process.
The paper will present the challenges and constraints faced by designers, engineers and contractors in achieving a successful design for mental or behavioural health facilities and will discuss and evaluate contemporary examples of acoustical treatments and noise control measures used within mental or behavioural treatment facilities located in Western Canada.
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