Few people are as passionate about music as Sarah Condran, who works as a music therapist at Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Sarah is a very important part of resident life at Arborstone. Through the weekly programming she offers to young adults and seniors alike, she has seen first hand just how calming music can be. She has also seen how concrete changes in infrastructure can have a positive effect on resident behaviour. 

To investigate the impact of music and physical space, Sarah received $35,000 in funding from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), an organization that supports grassroots initiatives to help improve resident health and quality of life. Sarah’s project, called A Sound Approach, explored the impact of sound on residents at Arborstone Enhanced Care.

“Noise is often overlooked in healthcare because it has become such a common factor in our environment. Noise can have a negative impact on residents in long term care homes, especially those living with dementia.”

But what, exactly, is A Sound Approach?

Sarah worked closely with CABHI to identify and implement changes to improve the sound environment at Arborstone. They renovated common areas, adjusted the layout of dining areas, installed acoustic panels and minimized equipment noise. They also changed practices to reduce noise during dining room service, improve the sound environment during recreation and leisure activities and develop preventative maintenance plans. Educating team members about the impact of
sound was a key element of these changes. A visual noise indicator called a “SoundEar” was installed to increase awareness, measure noise and support the overall project goal of reducing the impact of noise.

The SoundEar, mounted on the wall of common spaces, provides a visual representation of noise levels for everyone to see, which makes it easier to keep track of sound levels. The SoundEar even generates noise level reports that pinpoint times and locations where noise has the biggest impact on residents, teams and visitors.

 “When we approach sound, and likewise music, with care and intent, we can create a purposeful environment that benefits the residents we serve, while reducing the potential risk that noise can create.”

Thank you very much, Sarah, for sharing knowledge with teams at Arborstone and all of us about the importance of noise and the impact it can have on residents’
day-to-day quality of life. You are certainly supporting Shannex in Leading the Way to Better Living.