09 September 2011

Scotland: Patients lacking understanding and information

Patients' experiences with audiology departments are not always the same as their wishes and needs. Those are the findings of a Scottish report.

A report from Scotland shows, that patients often experience, that the personnel in audiology departments do not always show understanding and insight into their situation. For example, personnel continue to talk to patients even after their hearing aids have been removed, and as many as 45% say, that they couldn’t hear their name being called out in the waiting room. One patient says “I would really like to go to audiology and feel that they understand what it is like to have a hearing loss”, while another explains, that he would like staff to be customer-orientated and would like to “be treated like an individual and not as stupid”.

Problems with information

Patients also experience, that they are not given enough information. Only 11% said, that they had received information about the hearing test before their appointment and less than 1% had received information about potential communication support. Also, very little information was given on the limitations of hearing aids and very few people felt they were given time to discuss their expectations before being fitted with them. Only 40 % were actually shown how to maintain their hearing aid.

The majority of the patients received information on how to use their hearing aids (69 %) and were also shown how to use them (72 %). But that still leaves 31% and 28% respectively who did not receive information about, or were shown, how their hearing aids worked. Among the patients who received the information, many expressed, that it was a lot of information to take in at one sitting and that they had forgotten a lot of it when they got back home.

Very few patients experienced, that audiology staff had referred them to social work services or other forms of support, in spite of the fact that a majority of patients expressed, that it was very important. At the audiology departments, the focus is on the ear and hearing aids, but according to the study, the patients have just as much use for emotional support and information about different coping strategies.

The report

There are 758,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Scotland. Of those, it is estimated that around 160,000 people have a hearing aid. Hear Me Out is the name of the Scottish report, which was released by RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss), a UK organisation for the hard of hearing. The report concerns patients’ experiences with audiology departments as well as their wishes and needs.

Source: Hear me out - Adult hearing rehabilitation in Scotland, Florence Edmond 2011, RNID Scotland (Now known as “Action on Hearing Loss”)

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