Involving the family in the better hearing process (Part I)

Why family centered care will benefit your patient and your business.

Involving family members as support during a hearing test and during a patient’s ongoing journey to better hearing is a good thing for both them and you. In fact, the involvement of family members in the process will not just help your patients; it will have a beneficial effect on your bottom line. Let me explain why.

I wrote an article recently on a website I write for, called Hearing Aid Know. The article was about involving family members in both the hearing test and the ongoing journey to better hearing.

While I aimed that article at consumers, it struck me that perhaps we in the profession also need to consider this approach and the benefits it brings.

Hearing loss is a family sport

We all know that hearing loss affects every member of the affected person’s family. Quite often, communication problems frustrate the family members, and more often than not, they are infuriated by what they see as denial.

Family members often feel that the person with hearing loss is in denial or just ignoring the impact of the hearing loss. Family members are also quite often concerned about their loved one’s emotional well-being. In this way, hearing loss tends to have an effect on the entire family.

I think it is part of our duty of care to assist both our patient and their wider family to truly understand how hearing loss works and why denial is fed by it. In this way, we can alleviate some of the underlying frustration and tension that may exist.

The family don’t understand

The family don’t understand the effects of hearing loss, they don’t understand the frustration of being able to hear the voice and not understand. They don’t understand the feeling of being isolated in a room full of people that you love. In essence, they don’t understand.

Helping them understand the effects of hearing loss helps them to empathize with their loved one. It relieves the tension, it abates the frustration, and it gives a common understanding which allows them to focus on support for their loved one.

The purchase of hearing aids is a big decision

Hearing aids cost real money in anyone’s terms; they are a major financial outlay. You need to consider and understand all of the ramifications of that. Even if someone buys a basic set of hearing aids, for them, that may be all of the money that they have in the world.

This has become more obvious to me over the years; I consider large purchase decisions differently than most of my patients. I consider the price based on my future earnings, they more often than not, have no future earning potential than their set pension.

It means that the purchase decision is a complex one, most patients need help and encouragement in that purchase decision. Most patients will not make a purchase decision like this without the input of their family members.

For this reason, it means that the family members also need to understand the effects of the loss, the benefits of the treatment and the expectations that can be had of differing levels of hearing aid technology.

In the upcoming second part of this article, I will try to explain why the inclusion of the family is needed even after the initial appointment.