New project exploring sounds of nature on wellbeing

Dr Alice Goodenough, researcher at CCRI, is part of a new project undertaking innovative research exploring whether the sounds of nature can influence the mental health and wellbeing of people in care homes.

Building on previous studies including Greensounds, she is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in social science, sound art and Cultural Studies who will develop and test an intervention using immersive audio technologies in partnership with older people and care homes residents.

The team will collaborate with organisations including Lillian Faithful Care and the Forest Avon Trust to support older people facing some of the challenges associated with aging to record and design nature-based soundtracks.  Through sound recording workshops participants will record and select natural sounds they enjoy that will then 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, allowing 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 wellbeing.

The two-year study –  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.

The research team led by the University of Gloucestershire’s Professor Abigail Gardner includes Dr Philip Reeder, also from University of Gloucestershire, and Dr Wendy Martin from Brunel University London.

Alice said: “it’s really exciting to have this opportunity to work within such an interdisciplinary team to explore the relationship between natural sounds, health and wellbeing in older people.

The project will consider existing soundscapes within institutional health care settings and investigate how natural soundscapes might provide a therapeutic tool within that context – The project’s simple idea is ’Bringing the outside in”.