A Family Centered approach to hearing healthcare
For decades it was thought that hearing loss was a personal problem that required a personal solution, however, if you live with someone with hearing loss, you are well aware of how one person’s hearing impairment can affect the whole household. The ease of communication between family members with normal hearing is often taken for granted, and therefore feelings of frustration, resentment and even anger, can arise when attempting to communicate with the family member affected by hearing loss. All of the little subtleties of life that transpire throughout the day, once communicated quite effortlessly before, can often times go entirely unnoticed due to the difficulty in communication that now exists, robbing much of the joy you once shared together.The fact is, hearing loss can have equal negative effects on all members of the family.
Since hearing loss can affect all members of the family equally, a family centered approach to aural rehabilitation has become the gold standard, and is included in the best practices of the most successful hearing healthcare provider’s worldwide. This does not mean that the individual needs of the patient, regarding their personal care goes unnoticed by the hearing healthcare clinician. Critically, when care is provided from a family-centered care perspective, the attending clinician will be responsive to the individual needs and will always provide treatment that respects the wishes of the patient.
A family centered approach to hearing healthcare involves engaging family members or close friends to get directly involved with the care and treatment of the hearing impaired patient from the onset of treatment. From a family-centered care perspective, patients and family members are both considered experts who work along with the clinician whenever decisions are to be made. Family-centered care provides care to patients and family members that is responsive to individual patient and family preferences, needs, and values and ensures that patient and family values guide all clinical decisions. Importantly, in family-centered care, the needs of both patients and family members are recognized, with both the patient and family considered central in any clinical exchange. “Family” includes two or more people who are related in any way, be it through a continuing biological, legal, or emotional relationship. Thus “family” is a broad and encompassing concept that includes any individual who play a significant role in a patient’s life. Patients themselves define the components of their “family” and it can range from including just themselves to including partners, friends, and children in their treatment.
Benefits for the Patient from Family-Centered Care
Family-centered care has become widely recognized in the field of audiology. The benefits of engaging family members and other communication partners, include better patient well-being by providing emotional support, building the person’s confidence that they can manage their hearing loss by adopting the use of hearing aids, supporting the ongoing adherence to treatment recommendations provided by the hearing healthcare clinician, and assisting in the decision making aspects of audiological care and treatment. Together these benefits result in superior audiological outcomes and increased patient satisfaction with the use of hearing aids as well as incorporating special listening techniques.
Benefits for the family from Family-Centered Care
The benefits for the family are almost too many to list but include, greater awareness of the effects of hearing impairment for the patient, easier communication and family interaction, improved social involvement, improved relationship quality and an improvement of the general quality of life for all members of the family as well as the patient’s friends and social groups. Assisting the return to a more active lifestyle from a life of social isolation and inactivity due to the effects of a hearing impairment, can be an experience shared and enjoyed by all members of the family, and are made all the more meaningful to the patient, when those they love and care about take an active role in assisting their needs in helping facilitate their audiologic care and treatment.
At the Center For Better Hearing, we encourage family members or close friends to participate in the care and treatment of the hearing impaired patient. In accord with the patient’s wishes, we invite you to accompany them for their initial consultation and evaluation, as well as any ongoing office visits for continued hearing aid adjustments and counseling, and we would also encourage you to ask questions concerning any aspects involving the recommendations provided by the healthcare practitioner. Our experience with the rewarding outcomes for thousands of successful patients proves the importance and value of family involvement in the care and treatment of those suffering from hearing loss. Working together helps guarantee success, improving the lives of everyone within the circle of hearing!