World Hearing Day 2022: Changing lives through better hearing
World Hearing Day takes place on 3 March every year. An initiative from the World Health Organisation, the global awareness-raising event puts hearing – and hearing care – in the spotlight.
To mark the 2022 World Hearing Day, we asked Specsavers hearcare professionals to tell us about how their work makes such a difference to their patients’ lives.
‘I think you owe that lady your life’
Shellie Forster’s recent experience shows that as well as being life-changing, hearing care can just sometimes be life-saving.
When we do a hearing test, we also look at the external ear, just to see if there’s any dry skin or wax, anything that might hinder a hearing aid fitting if required. With one patient, I noticed a very dry, sore patch at the top of his pinner. He said, ‘Oh yeah, it scabs and falls off and then sort of grows back again’.
I didn’t like the sound of this, to be honest, so I encouraged him to go and have a chat with his GP about it. He was a bit resistant to this idea, so I encouraged him again. It was about six months later that he came back into store asking for me by name. I wasn’t in on this day and my colleague asked if he wanted to pass on a message. He got really teary and said, ‘I thought I’d best pop in and thank the lady I saw’.
He’d seen his GP and the piece that was found on the top of his ear was cancerous, so they removed it. In the process of looking at the cancer and removing that piece from his pinner, they’d scanned him. And down the side, from his ear down his neck, they found some nodules that were also cancerous. The consultant had said to him that if he hadn’t been to the GP, they would probably have never found the other, more serious cancer. He told him, ‘I think you owe that lady your life’. Luckily, it had been discovered in time and, after treatment, he was well and out the other side.
Shellie Forster, HAD and clinical lead, Specsavers Truro
‘This is what audiology is all about’
I saw a lady who was struggling to hear. For some reason, she’d never had a hearing aid in both ears, just in one. I think a previous clinician had thought there was too much of a severe loss, but I thought another aid would definitely work. So I fitted the second aid and her reaction when we turned it on was just amazing. She literally jumped out of her seat and she was so emotional about it. The confidence that having the second aid was amazing to see.
I called her a bit later to see how she was getting on, and the difference that second aid had made to her hearing was remarkable. For me, this is what audiology is all about, having a real impact on people’s lives.
Zain Qaisar, HAD, Specsavers Stockport
‘A three-minute screener can identify a hearing issue’
I saw a 22-year-old man recently for a hearing test. He’d been offered a hearing screener when he came in for an eye test, which he had and which indicated a problem with his hearing. When he came to me for his hearing test, to look closer at what was going on, I was not happy at all with the results, so I referred him straight away to a specialist.
He recently came back to see me to say he’d had surgery to remove a long-standing tumour which was on the auditory nerve and affecting his hearing. They think he has had this tumour for many years now and he has simply lived with the good and bad days with his hearing, thinking it was the norm. Everyone should take up the offer of a hearing screener when in the store. Some people – many people – have no idea they have a problem with their hearing and struggle through their daily lives with it. A three-minute screener can identify an issue and can get people to act on an issue, no matter how big or small.
Lynn Byrne, Audiology Partner, Specsavers Swords – Dublin
‘It’s so rewarding and heartwarming’
I have a husband and wife who like to travel via coach and cruise holidays and are very sociable and generally just lovely people. They are 94 and 89, both active, alert and want to enjoy life. The gentleman didn’t get on with NHS aids and relied on his wife for translation. The aids we provided to both of them made such a difference to their lives. He is able to hear and participate independently, without referring to her (she is very thankful for this!). She feels she can leave him to watch TV, and on coaching holidays he can hear the announcements. She said she would sometimes miss things too and they would both have to ask ‘what’s happening?’ to others. Now they can hear and be connected to the world around them.
It’s so rewarding and heartwarming to meet this lovely generation of patients and – through such a simple thing as improving their hearing – improve their quality of life so much.
Geeta Patel, Audiology Partner, Specsavers Hemel Hempstead
‘He was losing his wife as she was withdrawing into herself’
A lady came in to store with her husband. She had lost the hearing in one ear due an infection 30 years ago and had developed a hearing loss in her other ear as she had grown older. It had got to the point where her husband was writing things down for her and having to shout. They were on the NHS waiting list, which had grown longer due to Covid. They also weren’t sure if a hearing aid would help. The husband told me how he was gradually ‘losing his wife’ as communication was difficult and she was withdrawing into herself.
After testing I fitted her with a hearing aid there and then and after switching it on, she cried with emotion. She could hear me and her husband clearly and pretty quickly was chatting away to us. She came back to see me for several follow-ups and she and her very happy husband continue to tell me that I have changed their lives. To be able to change someone’s life in this way is such a privilege.
Sue Carter, Specsavers Bangor Bloomfield – Ireland
‘He was terrified of losing his connection with his daughter’
I remember helping one gentleman who communicated with his daughter via video call after she’d moved to Australia. They’d have a call every Sunday morning, sit together, thousands of miles apart, and chat and do the crossword together. But he said it was getting to the point where he was really struggling with his hearing, he couldn’t really hear her, and he was terrified of losing that connection with his daughter.
We did a hearing test and fitted him with hearing aids as an NHS patient. He came back a fortnight later for a check-up and he couldn’t believe the difference they’d made. He could hear his daughter properly again. It meant the world to him. And to me.
Helen Elliott, Audiology Partner, Specsavers Washington Sainsbury’s