Talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults

Financial cost is a barrier for many older adults in their decision to obtain hearing aids (HAs) | International Journal of Audiology 


Objective: This study aimed to examine conversations about the cost of HAs in detail within initial audiology appointments.

Results: Audiologists and clients displayed interactional difficulty during conversations about cost. Clients often had emotional responses to the cost of HAs, which were not attended to by audiologists. It was typical for audiologists to present one HA cost option at a time, which led to multiple rejections from clients which made the interactions difficult. Alternatively, when audiologists offered multiple cost options at once this led to a smoother interaction.

Conclusions: Audiologists and clients were observed to have difficulty talking about HA costs. Offering clients multiple HA cost options at the same time can engage clients in the decision-making process and lead to a smoother interaction between audiologist and client in the management phase of appointments.

Full reference: Ekberg, K. et al. (2017) Difficult conversations: talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 23 Jun 2017

Improving Deaf people’s access to mental health services

As many as two in three Deaf people in the UK struggle with mental health problems, but most find it too difficult to access psychological therapy.

Guidance for commissioners of primary care mental health services for deaf people from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCPMH) and Deaf health charity SignHealth, calls for improvement to deaf people’s access to mental health services.

Despite having poorer mental health than the rest of the population, the 60,000 people across the UK who use sign language as their main language often come up against barriers when seeking mental health services.

The guide’s recommendations for commissioners of primary mental health services could make a dramatic change to the mental health of many Deaf people.

Improving access to health services for the deaf community

Health and care services need to be accessible for everyone, but those who are deaf often face problems. Healthwatch Bedford Borough share how they are working to achieve change in their area.


We spoke to Emma Freda from Healthwatch Bedford Borough to find out more.

What made you investigate this issue?

Back in early January 2015 we were contacted by local organisation Access Bedford about the lack of text-only service for the deaf community to urgent care. We met with Access Bedford and other local organisations and found that the deaf community in Bedford Borough has significant issues to accessing health services.

What did you find out?

We learnt that people were unable to contact Bedford Hospital switchboard for non-urgent enquiries as they often had mobile phones and PCs as opposed to using type talk. This meant that they were unable to access the hospital switchboard just as a hearing person would to change their appointments, check opening hours, find out which ward a relative was on, or book British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters. We put our concerns and a series of our recommendations to the CCG and Bedford hospital.

What happened as a result?

After lengthy talks, Bedford Hospital launched a designated email address for the deaf community, to ensure they have access to Bedford Hospital switchboard services 24 hours a day. In addition to receiving an email acknowledgement, the sender will receive a response within 30 minutes, with details of the action being taken to a request to confirm information if necessary. We are proud to say that we campaigned for the first Hospital NHS Trust in the United Kingdom to have this specialist email facility for the deaf community.

Following work by Access Bedford, Bedfordshire Police recently followed suit, launching a designated email for all non-urgent queries and we’re currently in talks with the Local Authority and Fire Service to implement the same process.

What difference will it make?

This means that all people will have the same level of access to both Bedford Hospital and the Police for non-urgent enquiries.

What feedback have you had so far?

We have been overwhelmed with feedback from the deaf community, about how much better they feel about being able to access necessary services. We have also been working with NHS England on the soon to be released draft standards for interpretation (incl BSL) for the country and have given lots of feedback on the isolation felt by the deaf population when trying to access primary and secondary care settings.