Noise monitors have been installed in the Critical Care Unit at Colchester General Hospital to help patients to rest and sleep more peacefully.
The monitors glow green when noise levels are low, amber when noise levels go up and red when they rise further.
The three SoundEar II monitors, which cost a total £1,200, have been funded by the unit’s charitable fund, which is part of the Colchester Hospitals Charity (CoHoC).
Sister Karen Baxter from the Critical Care Unit said that feedback from patients and their relatives about the unit was generally very positive, but sometimes comments were made about it being quite noisy.
“We’re committed to listening to feedback, and concerns have been raised about ambient noise on the unit,” she said.
“We’ve previously taken measures to reduce noise, such as the introduction of bins that close softly, and these monitors are simple but effective visual reminders to staff about the importance of keeping noise to a minimum.
“Because of their medication, some of our patients lose their sense of reality so that a bin closing may sound to them like they’re being shot. Noise can upset them but they can’t always articulate that, although you can tell by their body language.”
Mrs Baxter said the monitors have been fitted behind the beds so that patients are not disturbed by the light when they glow.
The equipment can also be used to download reports which show at which time of the day noise peaks on the unit.
She and colleagues had learnt from attending conferences about other critical care units introducing noise monitors.