Carpet is a sound choice for care environments

Catherine Helliker of Danfloor UK explains why carpets are an excellent flooring material for keeping noise and dust down and providing thermal insulation

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 should not interfere with a resident’s normal domestic activities including sleep and rest. Noise is transmitted in buildings by both airborne and impact sound sources and UK Building Regulations require that both these noise types are controlled. People need to be able to hear well in order to make sense of their environment and in order to function well as part of their quality of life. Research from Stirling University shows hearing impairment can compound feelings of isolation and frustra- tion and these feelings contribute to behavioural disturbance.


It is essential that adaptations that simplify and clarify the acoustic environment, and reduce discomfort and auditory ‘clutter,’ are put in place. Good acoustics can actively contribute to ensuring that a person with dementia can communicate and remain included within their community. Belonging and interacting are highly dependent on communication, which in turn is highly dependent on hearing.

Risk of falls

In addition, as hearing is linked to balance there are greater risks of falls and this can be devastating for an elderly person. Headline-grabbing research carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in February 2004 showed that accidents on hard flooring had increased by over 300 per cent in the previ- ous five years.

Carpets can provide a cushioned landing

for any trips and falls and studies carried out in 1996 have shown that carpet, when compared with vinyl, can reduce injuries caused by such accidents. It has also been proven that gait, speed and step length is greater in older people walking on carpeted areas than when walking on vinyl. UK Building Regulations stipulate that a suitable floor covering 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 their Dementia Design Series guide – ‘Hearing, sound and the acoustic environment for people living with dementia’ recommend that the design of rooms within care settings must find ways to minimise transmission of noise from one room to another and that sound impact ratings should preferably exceed British Standards.

BREEAM credits

There is increasing responsibility on the health sector to address sustainability in the procurement and management of their estates. Environmental requirements and targets, including BREEAM Healthcare and the aspiration of zero carbon public buildings by 2018, make sustainability a key priority in the design and operation of health facilities.

The BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. Under HEA 05 Acoustic Performance, which aims to ensure a building’s acoustic performance, up to four additional credits can be awarded if impact sound insulation values exceed British Standards for multi-residen- tial and other residential buildings (for individual bedrooms and self-contained


Carpets can provide a cushioned landing for any trips and falls

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