Around 1 in 5 people are predicted to experience hearing loss by 2020 – a condition which is identified as a potential determinant for social isolation and dementia. Yet many people do not have the knowledge to identify their hearing loss early, and do not have information about the huge range of options to improve their quality of life by using hearing aids, other assistive technology and communication techniques.
Eastern AHSN is supporting a community project which uses experts by experience to help educate individuals concerned about or diagnosed with hearing loss, and their communication partner affected. Participants will self-refer into psychoeducational workshops, be referred by their GP or the hospital audiology department. The sessions will provide information about hearing aids, techniques to deal with hearing loss and discuss available technology. Peer support, advice and guidance are also key elements and participants will be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their conditions and the support aids available to them.
A participant from the first workshop told us: “I wish I’d had someone to help and support me when I first got my hearing aids. Going out into the street was so loud and the noise was deafening and it really put me off using my hearing aids. Having been to the course today I am going to go back to the audiologist and try again to get the right solution for me.”
A digital version of the course is also being developed to support those who attend the face to face course longer term and to improve accessibility to those who may be unable to attend in person.
The project has not yet been formally evaluated but it is expected to impact upon audiology follow ups and improve the quality of audiology appointments. Longer term it seeks to prevent or delay the onset of other factors that lead to frailty. The project is low cost, uses expert patients and could have a great impact on the quality of a family’s life. The initial evaluation is expected in August 2019.