Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Soundproofing Sanctuary.

Intervention Description
Rodney Whittenberg
Overall Description: 
There are 4 locations within the Jane Addams house that will benefit from sound dampening or sound proofing: the dining area, the public area in the basement, the therapy room and the individual rooms where the women and children stay. On January 14th around 4:00 pm, I took decibel level readings. The sound levels in the hallway with minor traffic were peaking at 65 decibels (db). Based on this reading, I project that the sound level in the dining room and public space, when full of people, would rise to about 90 db. A level 70db is equivalent to a loud vacuum cleaner, or the level of noise one would experience standing 50 feet from a freeway. Hearing damage begins 80 db. More importantly, loud sounds and continuous loud noise can re-trigger trauma. A combination of sound deadening and soundproofing dramatically changes the environment. The process involves a combination of installing sound deadening panels, creating a layer of sound proofing on the walls and acoustically treating and sealing all cracks and doorways. This process will result in a 15% to 40% reduction in sound. I also suggest replacing the Intercom system as the sound is harsh, brittle and very unsettling. A warmer more soothing tone can be achieved by upgrading the sound system. Finally, I suggest building a wall herb garden in one of the walls in the public space in the basement. This garden would inspire young children and caregivers to display their ability to nurture and care for plants; to demonstrate increased autonomy and care for their surroundings. I would also like to suggest a project for a group of children and their caregivers/parents to create a mural that teaches how to nurture and care for plants.
Trauma-Informed: 
I believe the implementation of the six principles of trauma informed approach is dependent upon the environment in which the said approach is being applied. Any improvement to the environment will improve the facilitators’ ability to work therapeutically with the residents and the residents’ ability to respond with increased autonomy, self-confidence and ability to problem solve. My idea originated many years ago when I was taking care of my sick grandmother who suffered from emphysema and had prolonged stays in hospitals and nursing homes. Some of her attacks were traumatic. When spending time with my grandma, I was struck by how loud and noisy the hospital and the nursing home were. Nearby one heard someone moaning in their room; a loud TV echoing down the hall; the squeak of the nurses’ shoes walking on floors; the muffled, brittle and tinny sound of the public address system. All these sounds create an agitating and upsetting cacophony of noise, antithetical to the trauma informed approach. This is why I believe that the reduction of sound levels is crucial and not only meets, but essential to creating an environment of safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration, and empowerment.
Originality: 
This concept takes advantage of existing products, concepts, and principles that are used in the construction of recording studios and creating soundproof environments.
Impact: 
The soundproofing of the Jane Addams Place will revolutionize the environment by making it the first of it’s kind. It will set the tone for future innovation in the mental health services field by responding to the emotional pluses and minuses of the impact of sound.
Readiness: 
The first step is to meet with Jane Addams House and decide which space or spaces will be soundproofed, and to what degree each space can be soundproofed. A contractor that specializes in the installation and building of recording studios will need to be selected. Once this is decided, a schedule for installation and implementation will be scheduled and implemented.
Estimated Cost of Production: 
40 000.00
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?: 
No
Space and Staffing Required: 
Once the soundproofing is installed the staff will not be required to do any thing. No maintenance or training is required/ If a wall herb garden is installed that would require watering and someone to be in charge of the plants.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?: 
No
Sustainability: 
No additional funding is needed. If soundproofing were desired in additional spaces, there would be additional cost.
Replicability: 
Yes. The process for implementation would be the same as in the Jane Addams House.
Evaluation: 
In order to measure the success of the sound proofing, a short questionnaire would be developed for the staff and residents. The purpose of the questions would be to measure the residents’ level of stress and agitation as it relates to sound and noise. The staff would be asked to evaluate how the residents respond to treatment and support. After the soundproofing is installed the questionnaire would be given again to measure any change in the response. There would also be a physical measurement of sound before and after soundproofing to show a physical reduction in sound, thus demonstrating success.