Carpet: a sound choice for any care environment

A CAREFULLY considered interior design scheme is essential for any care environment, especially where there are residents living with dementia.

The quality of the acoustic environment is a vital component of good dementia-friendly design as noise is regarded as a health and safety issue and shouldn’t interfere with residents normal domestic activities including sleep and rest.

People need to be able to hear well to make sense of their environment and in order to function at the highest level possible.

Hearing impairment can compound feelings of isolation and frustration and these feelings contribute to behavioural disturbance (Chapman et al, 20071). Good acoustics can actively contribute to ensuring a person with dementia can communicate and remain included in their community.

Belonging and interacting are highly dependent on communication, which in turn is highly dependent on hearing.

UK Building regulations stipulate a suitable floorcovering should have a weighted reduction in impact sound pressure level of not less than 17 dB when measured in accordance with EN ISO 140-8 and calculated in accordance with EN ISO 717-2.

Furthermore, Stirling University in its Dementia Design Series guide states: ‘Hearing, sound and the acoustic environment for people living with dementia’ recommend the construction of rooms in care settings must find ways to minimise the transmission of noise from one room to another and state that the sound impact ratings should preferably exceed British standards.

The reduction of sound impact levels can be easily achieved with the installation of carpet owing to its natural ability to absorb impact noise via the fibres and backings.

Danfloor’s Economix and Equinox Collection, which is designed for the care sector, achieves a reduction in transmitted impact noise of up to 29dB, which far exceeds UK Building Regulations.

In addition, as hearing is linked to balance there can be a greater risks of falls in the elderly which can be devastating.

Headline-grabbing research carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in February 2004 showed accidents on hard flooring had increased by more than 300% in the past five years.
Carpets can provide a cushioned landing for any trips and falls and studies carried out by Booth et al 1996 have shown that carpet, when compared with vinyl, can reduce injuries caused by such accidents2.

It’s also been proven that gait, speed and step length is greater in older people walking on carpeted areas than when walking on vinyl. Danfloor’s range of carpets have been designed to allow the use of walking aids, for those residents requiring assistance with walking, and subsequently withstand the impact of such devices.

In addition to providing an acoustically sound environment carpets have several extra benefits especially when installed in the care environment where there may be residents living with breathing difficulties such as asthma.

Fine dust can present a significant health hazard, especially for allergy sufferers, as particles may cause irritation when they’re breathed in and enter the respiratory tract.

Many studies suggest carpet retains dust particles, unlike hard surfaces where they regularly become airborne. If carpets are regularly vacuumed these dust particles, and allergens that are bound within the carpet fibres, are removed from the room without causing discomfort.

In summary there are many benefits of installing carpet in a care environment.

Catherine Helliker is marketing manager, Danfloor UK
1 Chapman A, Jackson G, MacDonald C (2007): What Behaviour? Whose Problem? Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling
2 Booth, C, Gardner TN, Evans M, et al. The influence of floorcovering on impact force during simulated hip fracture. Br Orth Res Soc Proc 1996.