This week’s blog comes from Sinead Armitage, Regional Information Manager at Action on Hearing Loss, the largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK. Sinead informs us about the UK Hear to Inform and Connect project, which has seen an increase in face-to-face information services across London.
At Action on Hearing Loss, we’re committed to the idea that everyone who needs assistance with their hearing loss and deafness gets the support they need. There are 11 million people across the UK living with hearing loss, many of whom are over 50, and many of which live in rural communities. While people in these areas do have access to GPs, specific information about hearing loss and how and when to get support is often lacking.
While we’ve always been proud of the information we provide on our website, we know that a personal touch is always appreciated. In January 2017, the UK Hear to Inform and Connect project began, funded through the National Lottery Community Fund. These services launched across Northern Ireland, Scotland, London and the South East of England.
This exciting three-year project enabled us to expand existing face-to-face information services we had in areas where people had more trouble accessing them, including those in rural or remote areas, older people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities and those living in care homes and supported living.
This support varies from providing basic hearing checks, giving talks to care homes and local community groups, providing demonstrations and products to help them and signposting people to complementary local services. Having done some evaluation of our work, we’ve been thrilled with its levels of success.
Since the project began, almost 25,000 people have received information and more than 5,000 hearing checks have been provided. Most excitingly for us, 96% of those accessing these services say they feel they leave better informed about hearing loss and tinnitus, and 93% feel better informed about what action to take to address it.
This is exciting for us as an organisation because we know what a profound impact addressing one’s hearing loss can have on your life. Many older people with hearing loss tell us that they find themselves avoiding social situations and going out with friends, and many struggle to keep up with family conversations.
Informing yourself about hearing loss, and what help is out there, can be truly transformational. Unaddressed hearing loss can leave people feeling isolated, and affect their mental health. Speaking to people who understand what you’re going through, and can tell you what support is available makes all the difference. Many of those who have used our services have now gone on to take action and get the treatment they need.
As we get older, it becomes more and more important to spend quality time with the people we love, and for many of us at this age our hearing naturally deteriorates. We urge anyone who’s beginning to wonder if they need help to get in touch and find out what support we can provide.
I am the Regional Information manager in London and the South East region. I run various information stands and talks throughout the region with the support of our strong volunteer network. If you would like to come along to an event to get some more information, please email Sinead.firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 020 3227 6004 to find out when the next one is.