Meandering Through the Hearing World

We’re All About Ears The Ida Institute

I listened to a wonderful Webinar from the IDA Institute, located in Narerum, Denmark.  The webinar’s title, All About Ears, refers to the Ida Institute’s focus on helping hearing professionals and those with hearing loss to communicate openly and honestly.

 

The Ida institute was started in 2007 and is funded by The William Demant Foundation. The institute’s leadership includes audiologists, patients, and hearing advocates. Their website is full of stories and educational materials that speak to their mission: to build a community that embraces person-centered hearing care. 

 

The concept of person-centered care is used in other areas of medicine. However it is usually not the focus of those providing hearing care services. 

 

Burt Meijers, an institute staff member,  started his presentation by asking how many people were satisfied with the hearing care they received from their audiologist or other hearing professional. The participants answered a few questions, and then, up came the results showing that 41% were satisfied, 11% were over the moon satisfied, 25% were neutral, 20% were somewhat dissatisfied, and 3% were extremely dissatisfied. 

 

Burt explained that person-centered care could change those numbers. He and his colleagues have discovered that successful patient outcomes begin when the emotional needs of those with hearing loss are addressed. He showed a number of film clips depicting people with varying degrees of hearing loss who realized how well they could hear when their audiologist addressed their specific needs. In one such clip, a young man from the UK talked about how his audiologist told him his hearing aids were not helping him hear. Through conversation, his audiologist discovered that this man was tech oriented and a music lover. Armed with this knowledge, the audiologist went on to make several suggestions of aids and peripheral devices that would meet this patient’s needs. 

 

In order to successfully care for patients, audiologists have to understand what is helpful to their patients. This can be accomplished through active listening, empathy, and the sharing of goals. When audiologists ask open-ended questions, they are better able to get to the heart of the matter with their patients. It is important that all audiologists show compassion since hearing loss tends to be an emotional disease. 

 

Patients must take part in the audiological visit. Those with hearing loss need to be clear about their needs and not afraid to speak up. All patients with hearing loss should prepare for their visits, respect what their audiologist is telling them to do, and they should leave their anger at home. Both the audiologist and the patient should recognize what each brings to the office visit, that is, the patient should talk about specific problem areas in hearing and using technology. Audiologists should recommend treatment options based on testing and the problems their patients mention. Audiologists should understand that helping people to hear means knowing how to listen, empathically.

 

The Ida institute’s research has shown that patients are more compliant and are better able to hear and use their implants and aids when they feel they are a part of the discussion regarding their care. The Ida Institute works with audiologists to help train them in patient-centered care. They do this through online and in-person workshops, seminars, online resources. There are sections of the websites geared towards helping patients to become more proactive in their care. Also, there is much information on preparing for audiological visits.

 

I am very happy with my audiologist and now realize why. He takes the time to listen to my needs, and he’s made countless suggestions to me about using technology to improve my hearing situation. I respect his professional opinion. In fact, I’ve been seeing the same audiologist for over 10 years. I wouldn’t dream of going elsewhere for my hearing needs. 

 

Those of us suffering from hearing loss face countless odds. Having an audiologist who cares is a great step towards our successful meanderings through the hearing world.

 

You can visit the Ida Institute’s Website at www.idainstitute.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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