Some family members of people with hearing impairment are super keen to attend audiology appointments but, when they do come along, they are left out of the conversation. The HCP focuses on the patient and does not involve the family. In the end, family members stop coming. This is such a waste of a valuable resource – family are the key communication partners of the person with hearing loss. They can really help on a daily basis when the HCP is not around. Don’t waste this resource!
So how can you involve family when they come to audiology appointments? There are loads of options but a great start is to actively engage them in decision making and goals setting. These things happen at initial appointment and review appointments and they set the scene for the hearing care that follows. If HCPs invite family in at the start then they will become partners for the long haul.
Some easy-to-use ideas for how to do this can be found in this recent article in the Hearing Review. For example, a simple decision aid could be used to discuss options for treatment with both the patient and the family. The HCP can describe what is involved in options like hearing aids, assistive listening devices and communication education programs. This makes it clear from the start that family are welcomed in the hearing care process. It will encourage them to attend future appointments and to be supportive of whatever option is chosen.
Also, why not set joint hearing goals? Something like ‘comfortable listening to TV’ is a common goal that both the person with hearing loss and their family members are happy to share. The TV volume being too loud is a source of great frustration for family and people with hearing loss know this as well. Wearing a hearing device will help both the person with hearing loss and the family achieve comfortable TV listening – a win/win situation.
Family-centered care means family members are partners in hearing care with the person with hearing loss and with the HCP. The infographic below offers tools for including family members in the decision making process.