Research by the University of Gloucestershire investigation whether sounds of nature can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of care home residents has secured funding of more than £336,000.

Building on previous studies, researchers in science, sound art and cultural studies will ‘develop and test an intervention using immersive audio technologies in partnership with older people and care home residents’.

For the study, experts from the university and research partners Lillian Faithful Care and the Forest Avon Trust will work with older people to secure nature-based soundtracks – such as waterfalls, birdsong, and sea waves. The sounds will then be aired via immersive sound technologies in selected care homes.

The research is being led by the university’s Professor Abigail Gardner, Dr Alice Goodenough and Dr Philip Reeder, and Dr Wendy Martin from Brunel University London.

“The fact the team brings together expertise from different disciplines enables the project to be innovative in design and simple in application,” said Dr Gardner.

“It will make a novel contribution to research into sound and ageing that can be used to develop approaches within institutional health care settings, establishing the base for scaling up the use of therapeutic tools that use natural sounds for improving mental health and wellbeing in older people.

Dr Garnder said that 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 research will enable a detailed assessment and development of approaches to identifying natural sounds as a tool for enhancing wellbeing in older people in care homes and other settings.”