The BIHIMA members are pleased to endorse a new series of “What Works” guides to hearing loss, which have been produced by NHS England in partnership with Department of Work and Pensions, the Department for Education and several hearing loss charities.

The guides provide practical advice for tackling hearing loss in different contexts: the ‘Transition to Adulthood’ guide is aimed at organisations working with young people as they move into adult services; the ‘Employment’ guide is to help employers know how to support people to thrive in the workplace; and the ‘Healthy Ageing’ guide is targeted at commissioners and medical and social care providers working with older people.

“The aim is to advise organisations, commissioners and providers on how best they can ensure individuals with hearing loss receive the support they need throughout the system, so that they can lead successful, fulfilling and independent lives,” said Professor Sue Hill, the NHS’s Chief Scientific Officer.

All three guides looks at the impact of hearing loss on each of the three groups, before going on to identify what works in practice, offering a wealth of applicable tips for helping people with hearing loss to live life to the full.

The ‘Transition to Adulthood’ guide discusses the specific challenges of being a young person with hearing loss, from language development and socialisation, to the difficulty of entering the workplace for the first time. Some of the advice includes starting the transition process early and offering taster learning opportunities, such as open days and work experience placements.

The ‘Employment’ guide draws attention to some important statistics, such as the fact that the employment rate for those with hearing loss is 65%, compared to 79%, and that people with hearing loss are paid an average of £2,000 less per year than the general population. Included in the resources for employers, there is advice ranging from ensuring the right kind of communication support is available during job interviews, to how to position people properly in an office environment to ensure good communication.

In assessing the needs of older people with hearing loss, the ‘Healthy Ageing’ guide states that the aim of providers and commissioners should be to “improve communication and confidence”, “to lessen social isolation, “to lessen the rate of cognitive decline”, “to improve physical health,” and “to lessen the chance of falls.” We particularly welcome the advice that follows, quoting the Eurotrak 2015 report, which explains that “the use of hearing aids can address all these points and nine out of ten adult hearing aid users benefit from them and use them daily.”

The full set of NHS ‘What Works’ Guides can be downloaded here.