Service users and volunteers will congregate outside a meeting of the full Dundee Council to express how the closure on 30 September will impact on the everyday lives of more than 900 people in Dundee who have hearing loss and call on Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership to invest funding which makes financial sense and also delivers a person-centred localised service which would otherwise not be available.
The volunteers, who have been trained by NHS audiology to clean ear moulds and replace tubing on hearing aids, provide support in Broughty Ferry Library, Blackness Library, Lochee Library, Menzieshill Community Centre, Central Library and R S McPherson Pharmacy as well as during home visits and sessions run in 12 sheltered housing accommodation units.
Such vital support helps many older people who have mobility, dexterity or sight difficulties to hear more clearly and live independently, without the need to travel to hospital. Hear to Help also offers a range of ‘added value’ information about assistive equipment such as amplified phones and TV listeners, which can make life easier for people with hearing loss.
Action on Hearing Loss Scotland has been piecing together funding to keep the service going on a quarterly basis during 2017 after needing to ‘take a break’ from applying to a charitable trust which has been very supportive in recent years.
£17,000 is needed to secure Hear to Help in Dundee for a full year. Dozens of applications to charitable trust funds have been unsuccessful and, despite the charity’s two identical services in Glasgow and Ayrshire & Arran both being funded via money from local health and social care partnerships, Dundee’s own health and social care partnership has rejected an approach for help.
Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said: “Our service users and volunteers, many of whom have hearing loss themselves, have been very frustrated this year as we have only been able to commit to running Hear to Help for three months at a time.
“We approached Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership in January for advice about how we could apply for funding, but were not even given the courtesy of a direct response.
“We found out via correspondence forwarded from local Councillors in June the deeply disappointing news that we were not being awarded funding, despite independent cost benefit analysis showing our service saves the public purse more that £70,000 for a spend of less than £50,000 across Tayside each year.
“The closure of Hear to Help, which can often be the difference between someone persevering with their NHS hearing aids or giving up and leaving them in a drawer, will be a devastating blow for many elderly people with hearing loss who depend on our friendly, locally delivered service in communities across the city.
“Our charity’s supporters are gathering to appeal to Councillors to urge Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership to make a last gasp attempt at identifying funding to save Hear to Help and avoid putting barriers in the way of people being able to access locally delivered hearing aid maintenance and support.”
Action on Hearing Loss Scotland believes Hear to Help delivers the vision outlined in the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Delivery Plan of supporting people to self-manage their conditions in their own communities.
For information about the campaign to save Hear to Help in Dundee, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/Dundee