In preparation for a recent medical procedure, I received a call from a nurse with pre-op instructions. When I asked for them to be sent in writing, she balked. With many repeats and reminders, we made it through the instructions, but it made my wonder, “Shouldn’t medical treatment be hearing loss friendly?” This experience inspired my latest article for FindHearing on HHTM. See the excerpt below or read the full article here.
Lack of Hearing Access Creates Dangers in Hospital Settings
According to the World Health Organization, one in every ten people—nearly 700 million people worldwide—will have disabling hearing loss by 2050. While hearing loss impacts people of all generations, the prevalence increases with age, meaning as the population ages, hearing loss will become the norm rather than the exception in medical settings. And since older adults typically consume more healthcare services, it may already be. Medical training must adapt to meet the needs of this growing population.
Indignities become dangerous when in a hospital setting. In this clip from “We Hear You,” our documentary about the lived hearing loss experience, Toni Iacolucci explains the significant challenges she faced when caring for her brother as he battled cancer many years ago.
Their struggles inspired her to advocate for better hearing access in hospital settings. Toni now serves on Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)’s Communication Access in Health Care task force to educate hospitals about how they can be more inclusive. The key is making sure communication is clear, precise, and provided in a way that works for each patient.
Some Easy Ways to Make Medical Care Hearing Loss Friendly
Problems like the one I had are easy to solve. Small changes in procedures could make communication clearer and less stressful. And as is the case with most accessibility measures, everyone would benefit.
1. Train personnel to speak slowly and clearly
This is helpful for people for hearing loss, but everyone else too. Medical jargon can be confusing or at least unfamiliar for everyone. Slow down to aid with comprehension.
2. Provide important details in writing
Nervousness and stress—which many of us feel with anything medical related—can make it harder to comprehend and retain information. When information is supplied in writing it is easier to refer back to and to share with family.
3. Read HLAA’s Guides for Effective Communication in Health Care
There are separate guides for patients and providers. One important recommendation is for each person with hearing loss to fill out a Communication Access Plan (CAP) to share with their doctors. The plan details communication requirements and preferences and can be incorporated into medical files at each doctor’s office. A sample CAP can be found here.
Continue reading the full list on HHTM.