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?