A Simple Solution for Attracting New Clients to Your Care Home

Despite the ever growing need for care, it is not easy attracting new clients to care homes. The care home resident population for those aged 65 and above has remained almost stable since 2001 with an increase of 0.3%, in spite of a growth of 11.0% in the overall population at this age (Age UK, 2016). This may be due to the increasingly common perception that care homes are a location of last resort for those with the greatest need.

One of the ways you can boost business is to embrace technology, and a hearing loop can revolutionise the way residents interact with each other and your staff.

Hearing loss is a major public health issue, affecting a third of over 65 year olds in the UK. With 93% of residents in nursing homes and 99% in residential homes aged over 65, this is a matter that care homes must address.

It can be tricky for those with hearing loss to distinguish speech or other sound sources, even with a hearing aid. In normal mode, a hearing aid amplifies all sounds. In a care home environment this means increasing the volume of noises such as moving chairs, scraping plates, vacuum cleaners, televisions or radios and others chatting. It can all get overwhelming. The result is that residents often remove their hearing aids and then find it incredibly hard to contribute to group activities and talk to staff, with many retiring to their rooms and becoming isolated.

Hearing loops improve communication by cutting out this background noise and enabling the user to hear the sound source directly. Sounds such as a speaker’s voice or the television become crystal clear.

technology, television, age and people concept - happy senior wo

A hearing loop will not only improve the lives of current residents; it will communicate to potential residents and their families that everyone is welcome.

By installing assistive listening technology at your care home, you are supporting the NICE quality standard (QS50) relating to the mental well-being in care homes and complying with the Accessible Information Standard. The 2018 revision of BS 8300: Buildings Code of Practice also lists communal areas of care homes as a place where hearing loops should be used.

There are hearing loops to suit a variety of situations within your residential home. Personal loops are a viable solution for use with televisions. Sound is relayed to the hearing device with no delay via a small loop pad, placed under a seat or via a cable installed around the perimeter of the room; portable loops with a built-in microphone are perfect for one-to-one conversations; large area loops are used in areas such as communal games rooms, allowing all residents to partake in and enjoy group activities.

How do residents use it? Simple. Once a loop has been installed they just need to switch their own hearing device to the “T” position. This is something that an audiologist needs to activate if they haven’t already done so.

Investing in a hearing loop is a small step that could create a huge change within your care home, attracting new business and boosting communication for residents and staff.

Get in touch today to find out how it could benefit your home.

Assistive listening technology: what are your options?

While many businesses know they should be considerate towards visible access issues like wheelchair use, hidden disabilities such as hearing impairment are often not given the same attention.

Hearing aids alone are simply not enough for people with hearing impairment. They pick up all sound in the surrounding area and don’t distinguish speech from background noise, which can make it difficult to easily interact in public spaces.

Assistive listening technologies can give experiences in venues such as movie theatres, meeting halls, and churches back to those who have been missing out for years.

What is an assistive listening device?

Assistive Listening Technology, or Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), capture a sound source and transmit it directly to the person listening.

There are three main types of ALDs:

Infrared light covers large areas and has a quick and simple installation, with signal reaching across the room as long as line of sight is maintained with the transmitters. Users must ask for receivers, which can be off-putting for those who do not wish to highlight their hearing loss. All receivers must then be maintained regularly due to hygiene issues and kept charged.

FM systems use radio frequencies to transmit directly to receivers or earphones when the user has a receiver such as a Neckloop equipped. Unless they have a custom hearing-aid, users must either carry their own equipment or, like with infrared, ask for receivers which must then be regularly maintained due to hygiene issues and kept charged.

Hearing loops are universally compatible with the telecoil inside hearing devices, meaning no additional equipment needs to be worn by hearing aid wearers. Although they generally have a higher installation cost than other options, they are discreet once lain down and little maintenance is required other than periodic checks.

What about Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is the most recent of these technologies and uses radio waves to connect to users’ smartphones or computers. Convenience is a benefit, as savvy users just need to bring their electronic device with them and connect wirelessly. The main drawbacks are latency – there is a significant delay between when the sound is produced and when it reaches the listener – and that users are required to own their own smartphone or device.

Hearing loops are widely adopted

We have outlined the benefits of hearing loop systems as we believe they are the best all round Assistive Listening Technology, due to both their lack of latency and ease of use. These benefits have been demonstrated to users around the world, as hearing loops are the most widely adopted assistive listening technology option.

Are care homes ready for the new NHS standard?

By 31st July 2016, all organisations that provide NHS or publicly funded adult social care must conform to a new Accessible Information Standard.

This standard aims to benefit those with a disability or sensory loss by telling organisations how they should provide support to enable effective, accurate dialogue with disabled residents or patients. In order to comply, a means of communicating with those with hearing loss must be in place in care homes.

For those with hearing loss, this is a breakthrough. Hearing loss is a major public health issue in the UK, affecting a third of over 65 year olds. They receive a lower standard of healthcare across the board when compared to the general population, with a study having found that higher levels of hearing loss were linked to lower levels of patient activation.

So what should care homes do?

Continue reading “Are care homes ready for the new NHS standard?”