The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) campaign encourages friends and families to ‘Listen Out’ for the signs of hearing loss and to help their loved ones get the support they need.
The RVS report states half a million over 75s haven’t told family or friends about their hearing loss, despite many reporting that it had affected their social life. The report highlights that there are still far too many barriers to accessing care.
More than 70% of over 70 year-olds have some form of hearing loss and left unsupported people are at increased risk of loneliness, depression and cognitive decline. The RVS campaign comes at an important time with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently suggesting families need to do more to stay in touch with older friends and relatives to avoid older people suffering from loneliness.
Loneliness and social isolation amongst older people has major public health consequences and the NCHA has campaigned to bring adult hearing care into mainstream debates about how to support people as they age. NHS research has already shown that by using community providers it is possible to improve access, standards and transparency whilst saving up to 25% – allowing the NHS to support more older people with the same resources.
NCHA Chief Executive David Hewlett said: ““We are grateful to the RVS for highlighting these issues and welcome all support that makes the link between supported hearing loss and ageing well. Jeremy Hunt says society must support people as they age – the big health challenge now is to add life to years and government institutions like the NHS must also play their part. It is time to get serious about active ageing and ageing well.
“In 2015 older people are still being failed. Our ageing population is not being told about hearing loss and the benefits of getting support early on, nor about the consequences of inaction. The World Health Organisation told is to get on with supporting people with age-related hearing loss over a decade ago, yet today we still have 3.8million people in England with unmet needs and that number is rising. Until hearing care is available at scale in community settings hearing loss will continue to blight people’s lives.
“Fortunately the fix is within easy reach, Monitor and NHS England have the solution, and the NHS can meet people’s needs by proper planning and use of all capacity, CCGs just have to follow NHS leaders’ call to action on hearing loss. That is what being a locally-led, patient-focussed service means.”