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      Good nursing practice Q&A

      To help you improve the care of your patients with hearing loss, we've provided answers to some of the questions you may have.

      I'm a staff member and would really like to do something to support patients within my Trust – where do I start?

      Speak to your manager to find out if anything is already being done to identify and support patients with hearing loss, and to find out about the availability of appropriate training and communication equipment. If nothing exists currently, discuss action points with your manager.

      I'm a manager and am keen to to support patients with hearing loss – do you have any advice?

      Check whether anything is already being done. If not, consider trialling something in your department, which could then be rolled out to other departments. Discuss internally and with your audiology department what is required, what can be done internally and whether external support is needed. Audiology should also know of any local hearing aid support projects. If external support is needed, contact Action on Hearing Loss using the contact details on this page.

      How can I encourage patients to bring their hearing aids with them when they come into hospital?

      List hearing aids in the ‘What to bring into hospital’ section of the Trust’s website, patient information leaflets and pre-admission letters.

      Hearing aids get lost in our hospital/on our ward all the time – how can we prevent this?

      • Make sure that information about hearing aids is recorded in patient notes and at staff handover.
      • Offer patients storage boxes to help keep their hearing aids safe in hospital.
      • Display posters highlighting that storage boxes are available, to encourage staff, patients and relatives to use them.

      How can we make a difference with a limited budget?

      There are plenty of things that can be done at no cost, such as following communication tips and signposting staff, patients and relatives to Action on Hearing Loss for information and support.

      Your audiology department may be able to offer training and access to hearing aid maintenance equipment, and they may be able to provide communication equipment on loan.

      There are costs involved if screening and communication equipment are required or training is delivered externally. But spending on training and/or equipment can save money elsewhere – for example, using the Sonido personal listener can reduce a patient's stay hospital and save money that way. Spending approximately £100 on a Sonido personal listener that can be used across a whole ward could save approximately £300 per bed, per night, if a patient can be discharged earlier.

      Can volunteers be used to undertake some of the basic hearing aid maintenance on the wards?

      Yes, volunteers can be used if this is your Trust policy. Your Trust may already have volunteers who could be trained, or Action on Hearing Loss or other local charities may be able to provide volunteers.

      If I make one change, what should it be?

      Follow the communication tips and encourage others to do so too – effective communication is crucial. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has included the communication tips in the latest edition of their ‘Nursing essentials’ pocket guide book.

      Some of my patients appear to have hearing loss, but don’t seem to acknowledge it themselves, or it has not been picked up previously – how can I address this?

      You can advise a patient and their relatives that they may have hearing loss and encourage them to go to their GP for a referral to hearing services. You can also signpost them to Action on Hearing Loss for information and support.

      We have some hearing loops (portable and fixed) in the hospital – how do we know if they are working?

      Hearing loops should be tested a regular basis. Use the Sonido personal listener turned to the ‘T’ setting and the headphones (if non-hearing aid user) or the neckloop (if hearing aid user). Ensure the loop system is turned on and check to see if it is working and also where people need to stand to get the best from it.

      If the loop isn't working, seek advice from your hearing services provider and check whether there is a maintenance contract covering repairs. Contact the supplier or the Action on Hearing Loss Information Line, using the contact details on this page, for advice from our technical services team.

      Do I need to screen a patient who I know has hearing aids?

      No, because their hearing services provider will already have a record of their hearing loss. If a patient with hearing aids appears to be struggling to hear you and basic maintenance has not helped, advise them to go back to their hearing services provider to get their hearing aid checked.

      Do I need to know whether a patient’s hearing aid is a private or NHS one? And how can I tell the difference?

      It's important to know whether a hearing aid is private or NHS, because you may invalidate the warranty on a private hearing aid if you try to fix it in some way. Ask the patient, and if they are not sure, check with your hearing services provider.

      If it is a private hearing aid, it's best not to touch it but to advise the patient to go back to their hearing services provider and use the Sonido personal listener to aid communication in the meantime. If a patient only needs a battery, you could provide one from the maintenance kit and ask the patient or relative to change the battery themselves. You could also advise the patient that hearing aids are available free on the NHS, via a referral from their GP.

      I've received training on how to support people with hearing loss, but how can I check I am doing it right and using the equipment correctly?

      If in doubt, ask your hearing service provider for support or call the Action on Hearing Loss Information Line using the contact details on this page.

      We have run out of some of the items from the hearing aid maintenance kit, how do we re-stock it?

      Contact your hearing services provider and ask them for the items required, or contact Action on Hearing Loss or other local charities from which the items can be purchased.

      How do I ensure that using the Sonido personal listener meets infection control requirements?

      The listener, neckloop and headphones can be cleaned using Clinell cleansing wipes. NHS Trusts can purchase disposable headphone covers to cover the earpieces.

      Our Trust uses individual headphone sets for each patient to use with the TV and radio – can these headphones be used with the Sonido personal listener?

      Yes, if they have a 3.5mm jack plug. If not, an adaptor is needed to allow them to be plugged in to the 3.5mm socket.

      Our Trust would benefit from having leaflets explaining about deafness, hearing loss, tinnitus, and so on.

      An information leaflet service is available from Action on Hearing Loss – a stand and a range of reliable, up-to-date leaflets are provided and re-stocked on a regular basis.

      Our Trust has already done a great deal of work to ensure people with hearing loss find us accessible, is there an assessment and reward scheme available to recognise this?

      Yes, Louder than WordsTM is a nationally recognised best practice charter, run by Action on Hearing Loss, for organisations striving to offer excellent levels of service and accessibility for customers and employees who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

      More questions?

      For further information, please contact our Information Line: 0808 808 0123 (freephone) 0808 808 9000 (textphone, also free), 0708 000 0360 (SMS only) or email information@hearingloss.org.uk