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      Hearing aid services in Northern Ireland highly rated by patients

      Audiology patients in Northern Ireland have given the NHS hearing aid service a ‘thumbs up’ in a recent survey commissioned by the Health & Social Care Board and carried out by independent charity Action on Hearing Loss.

      Patients who had a hearing aid fitted between October 2013 and September 2017 were asked for their opinion on the quality of service they had received from their local NHS Audiology clinic.

      Overall, the feedback received from over 200 patients was very positive, highly rating the quality of service received and the professionalism of staff.

      In spite of growing pressure on Audiology services to meet the demands of an ageing population and the subsequent growth in the numbers of people requiring hearing aids, staff are continuing to provide a good quality service.

      The majority of patients felt they had received the information they needed to use their hearing aid properly. Patients also reported that their ability to communicate and socialise had improved due to their use of a hearing aid, with most people using their hearing aid for most of the day.

      One survey respondent said, "It is a very good service. I could not cope without my hearing aid. It changed my life and my wife’s life too!"

      However, one area highlighted by the survey which requires improvement is the support offered to patients in the weeks after a hearing aid is fitted.

      A quarter of respondents said they would like further support after their appointment; but most people said they were unaware of organisations that could provide support.

      Claire Lavery, Communications & Campaigns Manager at Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland, said: "After a hearing aid is fitted there is a period of adjustment for users, who are often exposed to lots of sounds that they had been missing out on for some time, and who are also learning to manipulate a new piece of technology. It is important that people who are newly fitted with hearing aids are given good follow up information, as well as access to practical support to help them use their hearing aid effectively."

      The report recommends that Audiology services should improve the way in which they provide information to patients during an appointment, and after the hearing aid has been fitted, and to offer a review appointment after three months to assess how they are coping with their hearing aid.

      Action on Hearing Loss provides free monthly drop-in sessions at community venues across Northern Ireland, in partnership with Audiology services, to help hearing aid users make the most of their hearing aids. Trained volunteers can clean hearing aids, change tubing, replace batteries and offer information and practical advice on living with a hearing loss.

      For information on your nearest drop-in session check out https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/hearing-aid-support-service-ni/

      A copy of the Executive Summary of the Northern Ireland Audiology Services Patient Survey 2018 is available at https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/information-and-resources/publications/research-reports/northern-ireland-audiology-services-patient-survey-2018/

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