Dec 2019 The BMJ
One in six people in England has hearing loss—around 42% of people over 50 and 71% of over 70s. Increasing age brings greater risk of frailty, dementia, and functional impairment in daily activities, which may be compounded by hearing loss. Hospital patients with hearing loss are multiply disadvantaged if we’re not attuned to their needs. Quality of care may be jeopardised if we don’t document and share knowledge of patients’ pre-existing hearing loss. It can, for example, be a risk factor for developing delirium. It can make it harder for patients to understand instructions or information, which could in turn hinder physical examination, functional or cognitive assessment, and rehabilitation. Ineffective communication can leave clinical teams frustrated, and patients bewildered and excluded, as the ward round moves on.
Sometimes hearing loss can leave clinical teams thinking, wrongly, that a patient has significant cognitive impairment or depression. Countless times I’ve seen patients turn out to be far less confused than we initially thought, after a listening aid was used or when a family member arrived who was used to communicating with the patient. It’s all too easy to write off patients’ chances of recovery or benefit from treatment, or to underestimate their mental capacity for decision making, simply because of their deafness.
Outpatient consultations can also be fraught, for example, if a doctor is looking at a computer screen or patient notes, giving the patient less chance to lipread or see facial expressions. A patient may easily leave the consulting room having missed key information, without a good chance for doctors to check their understanding or for patients to raise concerns.
When patients are admitted to wards, too many hearing aids are still lost: some aren’t being used or may have stopped working, sometimes simply for want of a battery. Clinical staff have only a sketchy idea of how to check that hearing aids are working or correctly inserted.
Some basic good practice is outlined in toolkits and guides. We should sit or kneel at a patient’s eye level, not tower above them. This is doubly important for people with hearing loss: it helps to avoid distracting background noise and ensure adequate lighting, and touching a patient on the shoulder or hand can signal that you want to speak. Slow, clear, face-to-face speech at eye level is preferable, sometimes with register lowered slightly. Shouting helps only rarely, and it can destroy confidentiality by broadcasting private conversations around a ward. In select patients, simple manoeuvres can help, such as removing earwax, using written communication, or listening aids, which could easily be made available for each ward.
Get these basics wrong, and we risk providing a standard of care we wouldn’t want for ourselves or our relatives. It’s also upsetting for families when we do, especially when they’ve repeatedly passed on their concerns but keep finding the same problems when they visit. Finally, for such patients contact with hospital provides opportunities to detect previously unrecognised hearing loss and steer people to the right services or to alert their GP. We take this case finding approach for many other conditions, so why not for deafness?
Dec 2019 Australian Hearing Hub
Hearing Australia and Macquarie University announced an expansion of their Collaborative Agreement to advance hearing health. The Agreement, which commenced in 2010, sets out how the two renowned organisations will work together on activities such as education, hearing research, professional training and community engagement.
“Macquarie University aims to transform hearing health in Australia and around the world with a unique combination of research, education and clinical expertise,” says Professor David Wilkinson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), Macquarie University. “Hearing Australia is the nation’s largest provider of government-funded hearing services and supported some 275,000 clients in 2018-19. Its research division, the National Acoustic Laboratories, is internationally recognised for its research into hearing loss and innovation in hearing technology solutions. Our renewed partnership will strengthen the impact of both parties in the community through improved interactions around hearing research, training, clinical education, outreach and public policy,” says Professor Wilkinson.
Dec 2019 Science Codex
Many hearing loss patients are cochlear implant candidates, but few use this technology that could improve their hearing and quality of life. University of Miami and University of Michigan researchers looked into why. They surveyed U.S. audiologists from academic centres, hospitals and large cochlear implant centres, asking how they preoperatively assess adults for cochlear implant candidacy. Based on the 92 completed surveys analysed for the study, the findings were "eye opening," according to the paper's lead author, Sandra Prentiss, Ph.D., CCC-A, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Currently, cochlear implant candidacy testing protocols are not streamlined. The survey identified wide variability in how clinics and providers are determining candidacy for patients who may benefit from the technology," Dr. Prentiss said. "The problem is that if there is too much variance, potential candidates will not have the same access to this good treatment option."
Nov 2019 Fox News
A few years ago, Susan Root may have been like everyone else who plays hit songs over and over, getting one stuck in her head every so often. But one day, Root started hearing a childhood favourite that wouldn’t stop looping in her head.
Here at last is our 2018 revision of the "Hearing Loss and Hearing Solutions - A Guide" that we have published in PDF format for the enjoyment of users. Our original version was reviewed very favourably and attracted a lot of viewers.
You can view/download it from this link: Hearing Loss and Hearing Resources - A Guide (91 pages, 2.4 MB size).
Here are some of the professional comments about our new 2018 version.
Overall Reactions to Second Edition:
Monica Bray (Cochlear): I’ve just discovered the wonderful Hearing Guide. It's an awesome resource.
Jade Parr (Advanced Bionics): What a great resource.
Roberta Marino (Fiona Stanley Hospital) with permission:
I really enjoyed reading the guide! It's brilliant. So comprehensive, easy to read and relatable. I'm really impressed with the level of detail and can only imagine the hours you've spent researching new updates. The guide will positively impact so many people including professionals. I can see it being so useful for instance, at our hospital when new medicos have a rotation in the Ear, Nose and Throat Department or when we have new Audiology students in our Department who are new to implant devices. Again - well done! It's fantastic there's people like you who are so pro-active and care enough to put in the hundreds of hours required to develop such a useful and thorough guide.
Overall Reactions to First Edition:
Margaret Anderson: It's going to be a great resource for consumers and all sorts of people. Well done for tackling it!
Marie-Louise Hekel: Congratulations on this most thorough publication. You have done a splendid job. It would be a very valuable resource, not only for hearing impaired people, but professional audiologists in particular.
Roberta Marino: I think you’ve done a brilliant job. You really have a great understanding of how the different devices can be applied. If you don’t mind, when the product is finished, I’d like to pass it on to training ENT’s at the major teaching hospitals here in Perth and also the upcoming Audiology students.
Sarah McCullough (Advanced Bionics): Well done on all your hard work
Linda Ballam-Davies (Cochlear): It looks great and you've done a top job.