A new study from experts and researchers at the University of Gloucestershire will explore whether the sounds of nature could have a positive impact on care home residents.

Sounds of Nature Could Improve the Wellbeing of Care Home Residents

The research will involve working with older people in the community to record nature-based soundtracks. These will include sounds such as birdsongs, waterfalls, and sea waves which will be played through immersive sound systems.

“The project’s motto is ’Bringing the outside in’. It uses immersive audio technology to expand the sonic world for care home residents whose daily environment, routines, and health conditions often mean they have little access to natural sound.” Lead researcher at the University of Gloucestershire, Professor Abigail Gardner, stated.

Experts plan to analyze the data to assess the benefits of green acoustics on mental health and overall well-being. The study received a research grant of £336,578 ($409,674) with funding from UK Research and Innovation and the Medical Research Council.

The advisory board for the research project consists of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in cultural studies, music, and social science. University experts and research partners Lillian Faithful Care and the Forest Avon Trust will collaborate on the study.

Care home residents will access the external sonic environment through state-of-the-art 3D sound experiences, which will enable researchers to analyze both pre- and post-listening data and give a detailed assessment regarding any significant benefits to the health of the residents.

The project’s advisory board consists of Professor Sarah Cohen, James and Constance Alsop Chair in Music, University of Liverpool; Matt Fellows, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Gloucestershire; Professor Tarun Kuruvilla, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, Jude Rogers, Observer music journalist and freelance journalist and author; two older people from the Brunel Older People Reference group.

Person Recording Sounds of Nature Benefit Mental Health

Professor Gardner said: “The fact the team brings together expertise from different disciplines enables the project to be innovative in design and simple in application.”

The two-year study – SAGE, ‘Sound, Environment, and Ageing: Bringing the Outside into Care Homes’ – will be led by the University of Gloucestershire’s Professor Abigail Gardner, Dr Alice Goodenough and Dr Philip Reeder, and Dr. Wendy Martin from Brunel University London.

Professor Abigail Gardner, stated, “It will make a novel contribution to research into sound and aging that can be used to develop approaches within institutional health care settings, establishing the base for scaling up the use of therapeutic tools that use natural sounds for improving mental health and wellbeing in older people. The research will enable a detailed assessment and development of approaches to identifying natural sounds as a tool for enhancing wellbeing in older people in care homes and other settings.”