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.

Hearing loops: bigger isn’t always better

Note: This article originally appeared in ‘Installation’ Issue 208, February 2018.

How to get it right when choosing and installing large area hearing loops

Large area hearing loops can transform the lives of more than 51 million people with hearing loss in Europe, making education, worship, business, travel and entertainment more accessible. They allow people to hear the sound that really matters to them rather than amplifying all the noise in the room.

However, getting large area hearing loops right is about much more than meeting the design specifications of a builder or architect.

There is a common misconception that the only requirement for a large room is an equally large hearing loop. However, this simplistic approach can mean that when a user switches their hearing aid to the T position they get annoying interference or no signal at all.

Continue reading “Hearing loops: bigger isn’t always better”

What to Expect From Your Audiology Appointment

It isn’t always obvious what to expect from an audiologist appointment, so we’ve enlisted Laura Turton, Specialist Adult Audiologist & Operations Manager for the British Society of Audiology, and she’s helped us answer some important questions for you.

What can I expect from the appointment?
In your initial appointment the main focus will be around assessing your hearing and the impact your hearing loss is having on your life. The audiologist should ask you some medical questions about your ears, explore what expectations you have for the appointment and find out where your hearing loss is mainly affecting you and how that makes you feel. A fundamental part of this assessment is having your ears examined and undertaking a hearing test (where the audiologist will find the quietest sounds you can hear across tones of differing pitches).

This appointment is your opportunity to discuss honestly and openly what bearing your hearing is having and you should be presented with a range of options you can take to manage your hearing loss further. Take the time before the appointment to think about places where you have noticed your hearing has changed. If you are suitable you will be offered one or two hearing aids, which will probably be fitted at a future appointment.

At the hearing aid fitting appointment you may not see the same audiologist again, but your previous audiologist should have recorded your comments extensively from the assessment. The person seeing you should recap on these at the beginning of the appointment. Then they will typically undertake some tests (some of which you will need to actively participate in and others you won’t) to make sure your hearing aids are giving you an appropriate amount of sound during your appointment. During your appointment the audiologist should talk to you about different options within the hearing aid, such as whether you would like to have the hearing aid set to be fully automatic, or where you can have control over the volume, and the variety of programs available for different situations. This is the moment in the appointment where you need to consider if you want to try a loop system in the future.

If the audiologist does not activate part of the hearing aid called the telecoil at this point, you will not be able to use a loop system or take advantage of its benefits. Before this appointment keep an eye out for the loop logo in places that you work, socialise and visit. If you have seen one then ask for the telecoil to be activated, you have nothing to lose by having this done, even if you choose not to use it. After your hearing aids have been set up, the audiologist will show you how to use them and look after them. You should then be booked either a face to face or telephone follow up to check on your progress.

How long will it take?
The assessment should be between 45-60 minutes. The hearing aid fitting should be around 60 minutes and the follow up should be between 15 minutes on the phone and 30 minutes face to face.

Do I need to bring anything with me?
Bring any reading glasses so you are able to see the detail on the hearing aids as they are being demonstrated and for your first appointment take a list of any medication you are on.

What will the audiologist ask me?
Think of your appointments as a two-way conversation about any problems you have noticed about your hearing. The audiologist needs to understand any medical issues you have with your ears (such as infections, tinnitus – noises in your ears or head and dizziness), plus any wider medical conditions you have. This is important as sometimes they need to refer you to a medical consultant to investigate these further. However, the most fundamental part of the appointment is for the audiologist to get a better understanding about your hearing loss, what impact it is having and what you would like to do about it.

What type of hearing aids will the audiologist recommend me?
This is a hard question to answer as it depends on many different factors. The first is where you are being assessed. Within the NHS each department will chose a number of hearing aid manufacturers to fit, which will be different across different regions of the UK. Private providers have different hearing aids available to those on the NHS. Both the NHS and private dispensers have a range of styles available to them (although for the widest selection you may need to be seen by a private provider). The most appropriate one will be offered to you based on the choice available, the severity of your hearing loss and factors such as your dexterity and eyesight. If the loop system is an important feature to you it would be worth expressing this in your assessment to ensure your hearing aid has a telecoil located inside of it.

What questions should I ask?
Always think about questions that are personal to you, whether these are about how to use the hearing aid, when you should try the hearing aids, what you can expect in different situations and always express any worries or questions you have. If your audiologist advises you in some way that you don’t understand then please ask for clarification, as we are working to support you and want you to feel like you can ask us anything.

The take home message is that you have nothing to lose by having the telecoil activated on your hearing aids and it can open up opportunities to use loop systems either with additional personal devices for your home, on the phone or in public buildings which can give you the extra support you need in these situations. Ask your audiologist about this option at your next appointment.

lauraturtonLaura has worked for the last 16 years in a variety of roles across the NHS and the voluntary sector. Her clinical work focuses on adults who have acquired their hearing loss later in life and is passionate about connecting people to all types of organisations who can support all of their needs in addition to the support Audiology can provide, in particular, any information and support that can lead to people feeling more confident in managing their own hearing loss and taking control. Laura currently splits her time between seeing patients, supporting quality standards in Audiology and managing the strategic and operational work of the British Society of Audiology.


The Impact of Hearing Loss

“Curiosity, enthusiasm and stamina turned into fear, exhaustion and despair.”

Read Emmanuelle Ding’s account of the impact of hearing loss on her life.

Here she reflects on the challenges she faced after losing her hearing and how she has overcome these to embrace life after her diagnosis.

Hearing Loss Account Hearing Link

“I have been living with hearing loss for nearly three decades now.

The first diagnosis occurred in France, 27 years ago.  It was a minor problem and nothing to worry about – according to my consultant. So I didn’t worry about it and kept going with my life. I knew I had a problem and adapted accordingly without real impediment.

However, slowly but surely, my hearing deteriorated further and 13 years ago I was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss.

It happened four months before coming to England to live with my husband. I nonetheless took up the challenge of moving to a new country, learning a new language without hearing and adapting to a new life.

It took me two years to learn English through lip reading and to find a job.

It has taken me many years to recognise and accept the damage hearing loss has done to my life – 13 years and a Self Management Programme with Hearing Link to be exact.

Living with hearing loss means that the connection with your surrounding environment is intermittent and uncertain. There is no alarm whatsoever – no fire alarm, no burglar alarm, no timer, no bell at the doorstep, no phone alarm.

Any verbal information, if not supported by lip reading is incomprehensible, therefore any announcement in public spaces and public transports is out of my reach and I am left by myself to figure out what’s going on, whether it’s a delay, change of platform, cancellation or evacuation alert.

Hearing Loss Fire Alarm

Continue reading “The Impact of Hearing Loss”

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.

What is a hearing loop?

You may recognise a hearing loop sign, but how do they work?

There are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss*. That’s one in every six of the population!

1 in 6 people

A wide variety of hearing aids are available both privately and through the NHS. Hearing aids allow users to hear clearly, sometimes for the first time! However, in noisy environments such as the supermarket checkout, hearing aids amplify all sound, making it difficult to distinguish speech, music or conversation from the background noise.

Continue reading “What is a hearing loop?”