We all deserve high quality hearing care. But how do we know if we are receiving it?
Person-centered care (PCC) is a growing trend in healthcare that applies equally to the field of hearing care. PCC empowers people to take a role in their own health rather than passively receiving services. It ensures that people’s preferences and values guide clinical decisions, and that prescribed care is respectful and responsive to each person’s needs.
Research shows that including the patient’s views, input and experiences in their care improves overall health outcomes. That makes sense to me. But how can we tell if we are receiving person-centered hearing care? Ask these four questions.
Four Questions To Ask About Your Hearing Health Care
1. Does Your Hearing Care Professional Partner with You?
The best ones will have you prepare for your first appointment by filling out a questionnaire to identify your most challenging communication problems and the situations where you desire improvement. And they will include these priorities in their recommendations in addition to test results and other quantitative metrics.
Family engagement is also critical. Sometimes family can be skeptical thinking that we are ignoring them or not trying hard enough to hear. Learning about our difficulties from an expert like an audiologist can nip those feelings in the bud. Plus, your audiologist will learn a lot from them about where you struggle most.
2. Is the Office Hearing-Loss Friendly?
It starts with making the appointment. The receptionist must speak slowly and clearly, particularly when talking on the phone. Even better if they allow clients to make or confirm appointments via email. Their office should be quiet, well-lit and contain relevant literature in the waiting area including information on hearing loss support groups. Materials like these show us that we are not alone.
Even in a small office, it can be hard to hear when our name is called. The best care will include hearing loss friendly office procedures like receiving a tap on the arm when it is your turn so you can relax while you wait. In today’s Covid world this could mean something different—like making sure that captions are turned on for tele-health appointments or that clear masks are used for in-person visits.
3. Do They Embrace Creativity?
Hearing aids are great, but we all know that in many situations, they are not enough. The best care will include a variety of technologies depending on the situation. Some, like remote microphones might be from traditional hearing aid manufacturers, but others might be direct-to-consumer devices or even apps.
And they will encourage us to learn about and use external accommodations in public spaces like captioning and hearing loops. The more tools we have in our hearing loss toolkit, the better we will be able to stay engaged and active.
4. Do They Think Beyond the Hearing Aid?
Hearing aids and other technologies do not solve all our communication problems and that issue is one of the main reasons Gael and I wrote our book “Hear & Beyond.” We both struggled for years to put together the right toolkit to live well with hearing loss. In the book, we share that knowledge to help smooth the path for others. HCPs are important for filling in these gaps too.
The best audiologists will warn us about hearing loss exhaustion and help us learn how to ask for the communication assistance that we need. They will teach us best practice communication tips that we can share with others and show us how to be better listeners too.
Our Role is Key
When we understand what person-centered hearing care looks like, we will know if we are receiving it and if we are not, we will know how to ask for it. Or when all else fails, we will know that it is time to find another provider.
Readers, are you receiving person-centered hearing care?
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5 thoughts on “Are You Receiving Person-Centered Hearing Care?”
Last week I made multiple attempts to reach the new audiologist replacing the one who had left. She relies on a voice mail system to return calls and makes all her own appts. I explained to the receptionist at the ENT office where this audiologist is located that leaving messages will not help me as I do not hear the phone ring. I asked if this audiologist could return a text. The receptionist told me that I would just have to keep calling and leaving messages. I was able to use email to make appts with the previous audiologist. This new person did not respond to my email sent to the same ENT email address. I asked the receptionist, actually there were 2 receptionists answering the phones at the office where I paid a large out of pocket expense for those hearing aids about why they have no accommodations for those patients with a profound loss especially since they are an ENT office, and she again told me that I could keep leaving messages and no she could not make an appt for me even though she is the one who answers the phone. I’m not sure what you would call this but I don’t think it was very friendly.
That is very disappointing. Is there an office manager you can speak to who might be able to makes changes? So sorry you are receiving this type of card.
Deborah: That sort of treatment is unacceptable, and a reason to advocate. I hope you will connect with the health system provider for that office and complain. They should know better.
That is a good idea. Thanks for sharing it.