“What is the one thing you want my students to take away from this presentation?” the teacher asked the panel over Zoom. The three of us, all people with hearing loss, were addressing a graduate school class on aural rehabilitation. To me, the answer was clear: empathy. In this post for Ida Institute, I discuss what empathy means to me and why I consider it the secret ingredient in person-centered care. Read an excerpt below.
Read the full article click here.
What is empathy?
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” In the context of hearing care, empathy helps you imagine how you would like to be treated if you or someone you loved had hearing loss.
For example, if you had hearing loss, you would want your HCP to:
1. Ask you important questions and listen to the answers
This would include both the practical content of the answer – “I have trouble hearing at the dinner table with my family” – and the underlying emotional message – “I regularly feel isolated from the people who are most important to me.”
2. Value your lived experience
Nobody knows more about the nature of their hearing loss than the person themselves. Only they can truly assess the listening effort they expend in loud places or the ease (or not) at which they maneuver through an airport or a shopping expedition. Listen to their experiences – the good and the bad – so you can help them navigate more successfully.
3. Acknowledge your attitudes about hearing loss
There is much more to adjusting to hearing loss than adopting new technologies. Feelings of sadness and loss are common as we wonder if life will ever be the same. We miss the intimacy of hushed conversation with loved ones and the independence of communicating easily when out and about. Our self-image may also change as we battle societal stigma that still surrounds hearing loss. Or we may be battling our own internal negative self-talk.
How to develop empathy for your clients
We are all born with the capacity for empathy, but it can also be honed with practice. One important way to develop increased empathy for your patients is to learn more about the lived hearing loss experience.
Continue reading on Ida Institute for suggestions for doing just that.