Norfolk Deaf Association – Free Support for NHS Hearing Aid Users
Norfolk Deaf Association’s (NDA) Hearing Support Service looks after 10,500 Norfolk residents with NHS supplied hearing aids and is encouraging more people to get in touch and use this free service.
More than 124,000 people in Norfolk have some degree of hearing loss. This equates to 1 in 7 people.
The NDA Hearing Support Service’s staff and volunteers offer home visits, as well as a mobile clinic, which visits 28 towns and villages throughout Norfolk. There are also nearly 130 community clinics; most of which are for residents at nursing homes and sheltered schemes, but some are open to the general public. The volunteers look after hearing aids, clean and replace tubes, fit ear moulds correctly, replace filters, supply new batteries and provide advice on how to get the most out of hearing aids.
Aliona Derrett, Chief Executive, NDA explained: “We are now able to look after all NHS hearing aids issued by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Cromer Hospital, James Paget Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital, along with Specsavers, Scrivens and the Outside Clinic.
“Hearing aid users who have a NHS supplied hearing aid, and have moved into the county, can also benefit from our free service. “We are very grateful to North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group for their financial support, which has enabled us to help ‘out of area’ patients. I would also like to say a big thank you to all the audiology providers for working closely with us and supplying us with hearing aid maintenance equipment, so we can undertake our work.”
“We are very fortunate to have such good provision in Norfolk and we, as a charity, are working very hard to secure the funds that we need to keep this vital service going and free of charge for our service users. We would not be able to do this without the ongoing generous support from many individual donors, Friends of NDA, community groups, grant making bodies and of course our local NHS commissioners”.
Caroline Cunningham-Brown, Commissioning Manager for the Integrated Commissioning Team at NHS North Norfolk CCG on behalf of the CCG’s in North Norfolk, South Norfolk and Norwich said: “Our primary aim is to provide local services which meet the needs of the population of North Norfolk, South Norfolk, Norwich and rural Broadland. Hearing loss affects more than 10 million people in the UK – one in six of the population and has significant personal and social costs which can lead to high levels of social isolation making it an important service to invest in.”
Ian Wickham from Sprowston visits the Hearing Support Service clinic at NDA’s head office on Thorpe Road: “I have been coming to NDA clinics for 10 years. The Norfolk & Norwich Hospital recommended NDA and I’ve always had excellent advice and have received new batteries and tubes when they are needed.”
NDA has been working very closely with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) since the inception of the Hearing Support Service, almost 25 years ago. These close links have enabled the NDA and NNUH to set up hearing test clinics from NDA’s premises.
Now a GP who refers patients to NNUH Audiology Department can choose NDA as a venue for their appointment. NDA Thorpe Road is very accessible and has ample parking.
Dr John Fitzgerald, Head of Audiology at NNUH commented: “The NNUH continues to provide NHS hearing aids to both new and existing hearing aid users. We have very short waiting times and are UKAS accredited – the sign of a quality service. Existing NHS hearing aid users that have been seen by ENT in the past (even many years ago) are eligible for ongoing care at the hospital Audiology department as are other patients with certain hearing losses – just ring the department on 01603 287284 to find out if you can continue to be seen by the hospital staff at any of our three sites.”
“Any hearing aid user who meets one or more of the following criteria is eligible for a reassessment with Audiology:
• Asymmetric hearing loss
• Conductive hearing loss
• Severe/profound hearing loss
• Fluctuating hearing loss
• Very poor dexterity
• Distressing/bothersome tinnitus
• Mastoid, chronic perforations
• Learning disability
• Multi-sensory impairment (e.g. a hearing loss and partially sighted)”
“For patients wanting a hearing aid for the first time living outside North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk CCGs and over the age of 50 you can ask your GP for a direct referral to the hospital Audiology Service. We offer our services from the NNUH, Cromer and the NDA. The NDA enables us to offer a community based service, outside of the hospital setting, but to the same high standard.”
NDA also runs Assistive Listening Technology (ALT) Clinics for individuals and provides a service to businesses with impartial advice on equipment available to help employees with hearing loss in the workplace.
David Spicer ALT Adviser explains: “The majority of people who visits our ALT Clinics seek help for hearing in domestic situations, such as the TV, front door bell and using the telephone. But recent advances in hearing aid technology means that there is need for advice on equipment to help people hear in more challenging situations. The latest streaming devices, like the Phonak Roger Pen, transmit sound straight into hearing aids and are ideal for use in the workplace, lectures, talks and social situations. We can help individual hearing aid users and employers find the best solutions available.”
ALT clinics for individuals currently take place at NDA Thorpe Road, ACT Centre Aylsham and Cromer Hospital.