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The sounds of nature research project brings the outside in for care home residents

Our Royal Court care home in Cheltenham is part of an exciting new research project! The project explores whether the sounds of nature can influence the mental health and well-being of people in care homes.

It is part of a two-year funded study called SAGE, ‘Sound, Environment and Ageing: Bringing the Outside into Care Homes – has been awarded a grant worth £336,578 by UK Research and Innovation and the Medical Research Council.

Fiona Gillon, Royal Court Care Home Manager shared, “We are very proud to be part of this innovative project and the residents and staff are very excited to be working with the researchers on it.”

The project includes a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, led by the University of Gloucestershire’s Professor Abigail Gardner, Dr Philip Reeder, also from the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Wendy Martin from Brunel University London of researchers and Dr Alice Goodenough, a researcher at Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI).

Professor Abigail Gardner said, “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.”

The group are working with residents in our Royal Court care home, to create pieces of natural sounds together outside, which will then be shared with the residents through headphones. A manual will be built with instructions and sounds for easy use by care home staff to use with residents.

The Professor continued, “University experts and research partners Lilian Faithful Care’s and the Forest Avon Trust, will collaborate with older people to record nature-based soundtracks, such as of waterfalls, birdsong, and sea waves, that will be aired via immersive sound technologies in care homes. This will enable care home residents to access external sonic environments through state-of-the-art 3D sound experiences. Enabling researchers to analyse pre- and post-listening data and carry out a detailed assessment of the significance and benefits of ‘green’ acoustics to mental health and well being.”

The project has been featured in BBC West, BBC Radio Glos, local news sites, and national research, health and care news.

What a fantastic project to be part of! We’ll share the progress of this project as it develops.

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