Noise in Nursing Homes

We know a nursing home can be a noisy place and many organizations have been working to reduce the noise, especially of overhead pagers, for example, in an effort to create a calmer environment. But according to a recent study by Dr. Laura Joosse, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, elevated sound levels can also add to the agitation of those living with dementia.

Dr. Joosse was interviewed on UWM Today radio program about the study and her upcoming work, also of interest to those of us promoting person-centered care, related to patient and resident narratives in medical records, care planning and the sharing of information between medical venues. In this work, and throughout the interview, she puts emphasis on getting to know the individual to understand the circumstances around his or her medical issues and his or her preferences in life so that we may better serve each person. You can listen to the interview here. 

As a side bar, in the interview you will notice language use that strongly contrasts a traditional/medical model view of nursing home residents with a person-centered view. (For a great resource on changing language to fit the culture we want, check out Word of the Week: Building a Culture Change Dictionary by Joan Devine.) The host several times refers to residents as “patients,” though at one point later on corrects himself (or perhaps Dr. Joosse did off mic?) and uses “residents.” On the other hand, you will hear Dr. Joosse using the word “individual” often, both referring to a person and to care, needs, preferences, etc. It’s a good reminder that transforming long-term care must stretch beyond the walls of the organization and to the community to create a new paradigm of elder care that we all expect and accept as the norm.

Steph Kilen has been writing about culture change since 2004. Her work at Action Pact has included writing and editing for Culture Change Now magazine and the website, as well as writing and editing workbooks, video scripts, books, blogs, webinars and curricula.

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