BLOG: Moving Hearing Care into the Community

BLOG: Moving Hearing Care into the Community
  • 24
    Dec

BLOG: Moving Hearing Care into the Community

The NHS must speed up the transition of hearing care to the community by freeing hospital audiology departments to innovate locally, says NCHA Director of Policy Harjit Sandhu.

HarjitChime is a social enterprise in Devon set up by a group of NHS audiologists with support from the wider Devonshire health care community. Their model has this week been featured by Third Sector, a voluntary and not-for-profit sector publication, as an interesting investment for social funders. It is an article worth reading.

Audiologists in the community are more accessible and that is a major benefit for people with hearing loss. Care closer to home can also reduce the number of hearing aids in drawers because aftercare is on demand and easier to access when people need it.

With an ageing population, the need for adult hearing services is growing rapidly. Community-based hearing care is key to meeting this hearing need – the  Chime article adds to the case for change.

1 November 2018 will be the 30th anniversary of TheCase for Change, the groundbreaking RNID report that called all audiology to be redesigned around the needs of people with hearing loss and delivered closer to home. There are thousands of audiologists who want to improve access for all and deliver care in a more modern way.

The hearing sector is finally making progress towards those goals, but change has been painfully slow. One major historical challenge is that the hearing budget has not always reached the front-line. We have heard various excuses for this but never a valid explanation from those that manage hospital budgets.

Historically audiology has been a ‘Cinderella service’ – considered a low priority and often underfunded by the NHS. This culture has often led to low morale in audiology, with audiologists been asked to see more patients, with less resources, in less time. This model must change and all audiologists be supported to meet hearing needs in a sustainable way.

The Five Year Forward View states we must do more out of hospital, a familiar mantra for decades but yet undelivered. This time we must not let the system and distorted priorities stifle innovation. The vast majority of audiologists agree that community-based hearing care brings major benefits for people with hearing loss and want to deliver care out of hospital, but simply find they don’t always have the leverage to do this.  Policymakers must confront the barriers. Chime has shown that change is possible.

If you have innovative ideas that you would like to blog about or need some policy support tackling barriers that get in the way of delivering quality hearing care or meeting patient needs, contact us and join the fight for better hearing for all.

To read more about Chime visit http://chimehealth.co.uk/ 

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