Acoustic design


On sound

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Äldreboendet Kostern

The nursing home Kostern in Gothenburg has 27 apartments, four of which are short-term, and a room for training and relaxation. In 2008 the nursing home commissioned Audiotechture to create an audio backdrop to be used in tandem with a program for tactile massage.

     Emilie Nilsved worked as therapist and masseuse at Kostern and she initiated the project aiming to enhance quality of life for the residents. The backdrop created used elements of nature sounds mixed with meditative oriental chimes and bells.

     – It was perfect, Nilsved says. To me, it feels as if my heart rate slows down when I enter the room. The residents are listening to the sound, most of them in wheelchairs, while getting massages, except for two, which only has the sound stimulus. To rate the effect of the sounds is dependent on the residents communicative ability. The non-speaking residents react in various was, some by calmly staring blankly, others by falling asleep, some by crying. My feeling is that they are fully enclosed in themselves as most of them don't have any eye contact with me during the experience, but there are those that will let me into their world on some occasions.

     To Emilie, crying is not a negative reaction but an emotionally door opener.

     – If I had seen anger in their eyes I would have read it in another way but these tears I can only see as something positive.

     The residents that speak to Emilie will gladly tell her about their experiences afterwards; of childhood memories, of green meadows, woodland or birch groves.

     – In those moments I am welcomed into their dream world, and many times it's only with difficulty I can get them back into my reality after they have been captivated by the emotional experience, says Emilie.

     People with dementia usually repeat the same story time after time but when Emilie Nilsved tests them with follow up questions they generally expand on their stories.

     Emilie is not alone in noticing the effects. The nurses confirm that the residents who utilize the room has become more communicative and that work in general has become easier. Patients in the dementia section who used to do nothing but wander back and forth aimlessly can now be found sitting still calmly and the staff feel that they generally have a better contact with the demented patients.

     – The nursing home as a whole feels it has made a difference, concludes Emelie Nilsved.