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      Catching up with Salford hearing matters

      A successful initiative providing information, support and signposting to people living in sheltered housing, and their friends and families, is drawing to its end. Project co-ordinator, Margaret Hadfield, looks at what’s been achieved by Salford Hearing Matters over the past year.

      The project, sponsored by the Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has supported an impressive 850 residents, with information about hearing health and the associated risks of social isolation and dementia.

      We’ve seen many positive outcomes – most significantly, the number of residents who are now fitted with hearing aids, as a result of intervention from the team to seek a referral from their GP to local audiology services.

      But the project also faced challenges, with many residents dismissive of their hearing loss symptoms, despite experiencing difficulties. A common complaint the team heard was that “they set the TV too low”, or that “others mumble”, and this meant that many residents declined hearing screening tests. After explaining the importance of the test, and the issues that could arise further down the line, residents became more engaged with the project – highlighting just how key the project has been in raising awareness.

      There’s no doubt that our four fantastic volunteers who helped deliver the project have played a vital role in exceeding the targets set by the CCG, devoting their time, skills and passion to its success. One of them, Monika, had been struggling to get a job in audiology after completing her studies in British Sign Language and Deaf Studies. Since volunteering, she’s now accepted a position at a hospital in Newcastle, but intends to continue as a volunteer with us once she’s settled.

      Helen works full-time, and re-arranges her work schedule to be involved in the project during the day. Both Helen’s father and brother have hearing loss and she strongly believes in raising awareness of the associated issues. Helen says: “The project has enabled us to increase people’s quality of life by improving the services available to them. Volunteering with the project, and seeing the improvements in residents’ wellbeing, has been very rewarding and fulfilling.”

      The project has also benefitted from two audiology students, Lawiza and Sabia, joining the team as volunteers. They believe it’s important to raise awareness of the local support services available for those experiencing difficulties with their hearing, or with tinnitus. The project has provided the students with valuable experience, interacting with a diverse range of individuals, and the opportunity to share their knowledge and advice with Salford residents. They have also gained perspective of the general view towards hearing loss in the community, outside of audiology department settings, which will improve their own practice and patient care.