National charity Action on Hearing Loss is tackling loneliness and social isolation in older people with hearing loss as part of a nationwide initiative.
In 2014, the charity secured funding from the Department of Health to improve long-term care and support for older people living with hearing loss in care homes.
Hearing loss is, unfortunately, still considered by many just a part of getting older.
To address this, the project – called Hear to Care ( www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/heartocare )the charity work with more than 100 care staff across seven care settings in Leeds, Rotherham, Manchester, Cheshire and North Staffordshire.
Over the last two and half years the charity found that each home had a different way of working, depending on the needs of residents with hearing loss. This, ultimately, meant there was no set procedure or standard across the board.
Despite staff taking the time to communicate and listen to people with hearing loss, research found that the main issue came down to losing skilled staff due to a high turnover of employees and a lack of time and resources for training on hearing loss issues.
To overcome this, the project delivered training to 114 care home staff in all target areas.
This training has included: the impact of hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus, how to identify a resident with hearing loss, communication tips, using a screener to check for hearing loss, how to use a personal listener, and managing hearing aids.
Four care workers were also appointed as ‘Hearing Loss Champions’ whose role was to raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of hearing loss and hearing aids, and be a key link to local audiology and other hearing services.
Sarah Treadwell-Baker, Development Projects Manager for Action on Hearing Loss, said: ‘The Hear to Care project has provided Action on Hearing Loss with a real insight into the needs of residents in care settings with hearing loss, and also into the daily challenges facing the staff supporting and caring for these residents. We have seen a real increase in the knowledge, skills and confidence of staff in identifying and supporting people with hearing loss. The residents involved with the project have reported many positive outcomes such as using equipment to enable them to hear staff better and gaining hearing aids through the support of staff and audiology departments working together.’
Louise Allsop, Quality Improvement Manager for East Cheshire CCG, said: “One of the CCG’s ambitions is to increase the number of people having a positive experience of care. For that reason, I welcome Action on Hearing Loss’ publication of guidance for care providers on supporting older people with hearing loss. We’re working hard with providers to implement the guidance which, I’m confident, will impact positively on the health and wellbeing of our cared-for people.”
Following the project, the charity has produced a Guidance document to support staff and residents in care settings, and to embed a real change in culture when it comes to hearing loss in older people.
To read practical guidance on how care settings can address the hearing loss needs of their residents, visit: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/heartocare
For any more information contact Sarah Treadwell-Baker, or Emma Holmes, on 0121 450 8980.