In Memory of Ruth Brewer

CIMG3106 Sep 3 2019 Ruth Brewer with Annie Lee

Left, Ruth Brewer with her pocket talker, and Annie Lee MacDonald. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 28, 2019.  Ruth Brewer, a delightful woman who loved using her pocket talker to help her communicate, became a shining and exuberant example of the difference that hearing accessibility can make in a person’s life. She stated that the pocket talker was her lifeline as it enabled her to hear well enough to get out of bed and become socially active instead of socially isolated. (See The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline).

Engaging and articulate, she was interviewed in our recent YouTube video ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’ (See ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’)

Sadly, Ruth passed away on Christmas Eve.  (For more information see https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/obituaries/ruth-brewer-32008/)  She will be missed, but hopefully will remain an inspiration to all with hearing loss!

If you have been encouraged to use a pocket talker after reading about Ruth or watching the YouTube video, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation in Ruth’s memory.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Hearing Accessibility Is Enshrined in Human Rights Legislation

HRC_HearPEI2

Left to right: Tom Hilton, Brenda Picard, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, John Rogers (Photo courtesy of PEI Human Rights Commission)

December 26, 2019.  December 10 is Human Rights Day. Every year, as we attend this important anniversary at an event coordinated by the PEI Human Rights Commission, we are reminded that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations, meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. Canada is a signatory to this Convention, which is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention on March 11, 2010 and it entered into force on April 12, 2010.

71 years ago, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.  Tom Hilton, Education Officer for the PEI Human Rights Commission, noted that this declaration “happens to be the world’s most translated document.” In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day, to bring attention to “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

Annie Lee MacDonald and I always accept an invitation to this annual event for two key  reasons:

  • Hearing accessibility is one of the rights enshrined in human rights legislation.  We need to be visible and ensure our voices are heard.
  • As part of their accessibility efforts, the PEI Human Rights Commission provides real time captioning for their event. We support this important initiative.

Over the past years, the process of providing real time captioning has improved and we had no issues with the service provided. The screen was placed near the podium, allowing us to easily see the stage, the podium, and the captioning screen.  The captioning itself was excellent, with few errors.  Well done!

It isn’t only people with hearing loss who appreciate real time captioning!

We noticed that it wasn’t only people with hearing loss following the captioning. Several parents and grandparents of children from the Stratford Elementary School Choir were avidly following the captioning.  Many of these adults spoke English as a second language, and I’m sure they were as grateful to see the written words on screen as we were!

Perhaps traffic flows of speakers to the podium can be improved next year, so that speakers do not have to cross past the screen.  It seems a no-brainer given the event, but some speakers will still stand in front of the screen, in spite of being able to see the scrolling text.  This temporary difficulty is easily fixed by seating speakers on the side of the room away from the line of vision of the screen.

Please …… Don’t block the screen!

A bigger challenge in accessibility came from the photographer sent by the media to cover the event, who persisted in blocking the screen, in spite of being asked several times not to do so by the organizers. This deliberate wilfulness showed a lack of respect to the organizers, as well as to the attendees who depended on the real time captioning, and didn’t reflect well on his employer.  Professional photographers should be unobtrusive and not interfere with the events they cover.

These were the only two points regarding hearing accessibility that hopefully can be addressed for future events.  This year’s theme for Human Rights Day was ‘youth standing up for human rights’.  While we are no longer in the first blush of youth, we still stand up and speak out for hearing accessibility.

As Her Honour The Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, said in her remarks with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?  In small places, close to home.  So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

Several politicians were in attendance.  We had a chance to briefly speak with the Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice & Public Safety.

CIMG3733 Dec 12 2019 Human Rights Day by Sharon Lund MacDonald

Left to right:  Annie Lee MacDonald, Minister Bloyce Thompson, Daria Valkenburg.  (Photo taken by Sheila Lund MacDonald)

John Rogers, the outgoing Chair of the Human Rights Commission, noted that “We are the smallest Human Rights Commission in the country, but by no means the smallest jurisdiction in population.”  It’s a testament to the commitment that while the office may be small they have many open files to deal with, and participate in many outreach activities.

Thank you to the PEI Human Rights Commission for including us in their event, and bringing more awareness of hearing accessibility in public places. Comments? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

“Our Stories Matter”

December 22, 2019.  One of the tendencies so many of us with hearing loss have is to withdraw from conversations and situations that involve groups of people…. it becomes too difficult to hear. This can be especially challenging during holidays and important family celebrations.  (See Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare?) 

We long for people to understand what we need so we can more easily participate in conversations, but on the other hand, we can be just as guilty at forgetting to practice better hearing strategies ourselves.  Oh, I’m so guilty of that!  My husband, who has great hearing, can get so frustrated with me.  I have a tendency to talk to him….while he’s in another part of the house.  One of two things happen….  Either he didn’t hear me…. (my beloved tells me his hearing is good but not supersonic!)…. or he hears me and answers…. and then I get upset because I didn’t hear him!  So either he’s ignored as I really heard nothing, or I ask him why he’s talking to me when he knows I can’t follow what he’s saying when he’s in another room.  Hmm…. I’m then indignantly reminded by him as to who started the conversation!

So, I was all ears when Brenda Porter led an interesting discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.

CIMG3675 Brenda Porter Our Stories Matter presentation Nov 26 2019

Brenda Porter facilitated the “Our Stories Matter” workshop.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We expend so much energy trying to hear that we become mute and silent in conversations”, Brenda commented.  “It’s easy to forget that others WANT to hear us and we forget that our opinions matter. It’s important to share our voices.

Brenda then went right to the heart of a practice so many of us are guilty of….. “We know what others need to do, but often forget to practice those same strategies ourselves.

We then broke up into smaller groups and each person was tasked with telling a short anecdote to the others in the group, using the strategies we wished everyone would use with us, such as:

  • Speak clearly
  • Face your listeners so they see what you are saying (ie. speech read)
  • Avoid contractions where possible

Afterwards, we were asked for feedback.  What did we learn?  Were there surprises?  Louise Larkin summed up the experience we all had…. “Our group was happy to learn we weren’t alone.  We ALL have trouble with background noise.  We had to snuggle together and strive to use contact and speak clearly.

Thank you to Brenda Porter for facilitating the workshop and encouraging all to share their voices. She brought out important and relevant points to take to heart anytime, but especially at this time of year. Comments? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Think Science Fair!

December 20, 2019.  Last month a blog posting about noisy restaurants included a link to a nifty app called Soundprint (see https://www.soundprint.co/) that measures decibel levels (See Would You Dine Out In A Noisy Restaurant Or Pub?).  Not long after the article was written, CBC’s Marketplace did a program on excessive noise levels and also featured the same app (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHa3OMdO1mc).

It got us talking about the noise levels in our everyday lives, not just restaurants.  And this led to thoughts of the upcoming PEI Science Fair.  Every year, Hear PEI sponsors the ‘Listen To This‘ specialty prize at the PEI Science Fair, coming up on April 2, 2020.

So this year, we are encouraging Island students to research decibel levels and the effects of sound on health, using the Soundprint app. For more information see PEI Science Fair: Ideas http://peisciencefair.ca/p/links.html

If you are a teacher, or have children or grandchildren looking for a PEI Science Fair project, let them know about these project ideas.  We hope that participating students will share their findings, and help everyone to build more awareness of the impact that sound levels have on our health.

Comments or more project ideas can be emailed to hearpei@gmail.com or sent as a comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

 

© Daria Valkenburg

A Sad Farewell To Fran Salsman

December 17, 2019.  We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of friend and member Fran Salsman.  Visitation is at the Davison Funeral Home in Kensington on Saturday, December 21, 2019 from 1 to 4 pm.  Her funeral is on Sunday afternoon, December 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm at Kensington United Church.  For more information, please see: http://www.davisonfh.com/obituaries/143054/

Fran Salsman Alma Nunn and Joan Gallant

Photo from 2016: Frances ‘Fran’ Salsman, left, Alma Nunn, centre, and Joan Gallant. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Fran was one of three women with cochlear implants who shared their experiences for a newspaper article in 2016, bringing much needed awareness on a condition most people know nothing about.  (To read the article see County Line Courier re cochlear implant article Page 20)

Annie Lee MacDonald noted that Fran’s cat acted as an extra pair of ears.  “She depended on the cat to alert her for different things.”  What an innovative partnership!

If you have memories you’d like to share about Fran, please email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation in Fran’s memory.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare?

December 2005.  Christmas glasses on dining room table.

Preparing for a holiday get-together.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 6, 2019.  The holidays…. family dinners, cookie exchanges with your friends, get-togethers with friends and neighbours…What a fun time! Don’t you love it when people are enjoying themselves? Wait… not so fast… a lot of people with hearing loss say. Some candid comments shared recently perhaps can best be described as people with hearing loss thinking out loud and wishing that others could appreciate the feelings of those who face the challenges of hearing in difficult situations.

One woman said, “It’s not fun at all!  The TV is blaring, music is playing in another part of the house, kids are making noise with their toys, and everyone is talking at once. My husband and I love our family, but we wish they weren’t so noisy.

Family dinners are a nightmare” I was told by one woman.  “Everyone has side conversations and I’m left out.  I can’t follow anyone as everyone is talking over each other. I feel more alone with them than when they are not around.

Another woman quietly confessed that “I resent family dinners.  I work hard to provide the meal and invite everyone over. Then they all talk to each other and I’m sitting there wondering why I’m not just sitting with my feet up, watching a nice movie.

I was with a group of women, and was talking to my neighbour.  We were seated at a long table.  A woman to my left told me to be quiet as she wanted to hear what was being said at the far right of the table.”  The hurt in this woman’s voice was unmistakable.  “If she was interested in what was going on at the other end of the table, why didn’t she go and sit there?

My friends at my club show me a lot of consideration.  They have a rule that one person speaks at a time so that I, and everyone else, can follow the conversation.  My family doesn’t treat me with that same respect.  It’s a free-for-all.

Wow! Frustration, loneliness while among a group of people, resentment, hurt feelings, lack of enjoyment.  While there are plenty of tips and assistive listening tools to help navigate holiday get-togethers, you first have to deal with these negative feelings that are taking away your enjoyment of the holidays.

One thing to realize is that whether your hearing is good or bad, if you are at a large table, you are NOT going to hear every conversation. That’s one reason why there are so many side conversations.  People tend to talk to who is near them.

During holiday get-togethers, people are excited and often they are with family and friends they don’t often see, particularly if some live far away.  Yes, the noise levels rise with the number of people, and there are many more side conversations.

So, what can you do to make these events more enjoyable?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a rest BEFORE everyone arrives, or before you go out to an event.  Don’t work all day preparing a meal and cleaning the house, then expect to hear well when you are already exhausted.  You won’t.
  • Shut the TV and music off during mealtimes!  Take a good look at those Christmas movies on TV….no one is watching TV during dinner!
  • Instead of one long table, consider setting up several smaller tables.  Everyone will find it easier to concentrate and listen to a smaller group of people at a time. Ask some of the people to rotate from one table to another between courses, so that there is more interaction.
  • Pick a spot at the table and in the room where you can hear the best.  Most of us have one ear that we can hear better with.  Position yourself so that’s the ear facing your dinner companions.
  • Choose an ‘escape’ room.  When the noise level gets to be too much, simply go to a quiet room and have a few minutes break to give your ears a rest.  If the event is in your house, or at a friend’s place, that’s easily done.  Otherwise, you can always excuse yourself to go to the washroom!
  • Recognize that a holiday get-together is not the same as a small gathering.  Don’t worry that you can’t hear everyone.
  • If you are really interested in a conversation that you can’t hear, perhaps at another part of the table, get up and move there.  That’s what the woman who told another one to ‘be quiet’ so she could hear what was being said at the other end of the table should have done.

Got more suggestions? As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

More Holiday Gift Ideas For People With Hearing Loss

December 3, 2019.  Last month we posted our YouTube video ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ for people with hearing loss and did a blog posting. (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss)  Then we posted another YouTube video ‘I Love My Looping Chair’ and did a blog posting about that. (See I Love My Looping Chair”)

In answer to questions we’ve received, yes, some of the products featured in the ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ video are available here on the Island, including:

  1. POCKET TALKER (without telecoil)
  2. HARD OF HEARING BUTTONS
  3. CLARITY AMPLIFIED CORDLESS PHONE
  4. WAKE ASSURE JOLT ALARM CLOCK
  5. AMPLIFIED TV LISTENING SYSTEM
  6. RUNPHONES HEADPHONE BAND

SPECIAL HEARING LOOP ACCESS DEVICES

  1. OTOjOY EARBUDS (works with an iPhone app)
  2. HEARING LOOP RECEIVER (comes with headphones)
  3. POCKET TALKER WITH TELECOIL

Ideas and suggestions for more items to make the life of someone with hearing loss easier continue to come in.  One idea I hope will be adopted by medical and dental personnel are the new clear-window surgical masks.  For those of us who use speech reading techniques to assist in communication, hearing someone with a surgical mask is a challenge! (For more information, see https://www.hearingtracker.com/news/clear-window-surgical-masks-are-a-lifesaver-for-patients-with-hearing-loss)

Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions let us know about another hearing assistive device, a Comfort Duett pocket talker, which he’s described as a ‘pocket talker on steroids’.  It comes with a telecoil so you can access a hearing loop. (A YouTube demonstration, with closed captioning, can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUZPYrU8wDc)

Got more ideas? Have you tried any of these products?  As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

 

Outreach At The PEI Legislature

November 27, 2019.  As one of the organizations that received a community grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI this year, we were invited to attend the PEI Legislature on November 21 for a House Statement by the Hon. Ernie Hudson, Minister of Social Development and Housing and Minister Responsible for Seniors,  announcing the Grant Program and grant recipients in the Legislative Assembly.  The invitation explained that “This statement is part of our Department’s activities to increase awareness of the Grant Program, and the important and innovative work of your projects and organizations to improve lives of seniors in our communities across the province.

CIMG3671 Nov 21 2019 PEI Legislature Sr Sec Grant Recipients with Minister Hudson

Group photo of grant recipients at the J. Angus MacLean building. Minister Hudson is 4th from the left. Next to him in front is Daria Valkenburg and beside her is Annie Lee MacDonald.

As the gallery in the Legislature was full with a school visit, we were invited to gather across the road from the Legislature in the J. Angus MacLean building.  A viewing room was set up for us, with a live feed, and it worked well.  We were very appreciative that the Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, specifically welcomed Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg in his opening remarks.  (Blog readers may recall that a petition for equal access for all Islanders to hearing aid funding through the AccessAbility program was presented in the PEI Legislature in July by Peter Bevan-Baker.  We are still working to get that passed in the Legislature.)

Minister Hudson, in his remarks, noted that 23 groups had been awarded community grants, and afterwards he dropped by for a group photo and to chat with us.  Of course, we reminded him about our petition.  He told us he had not forgotten it!

Our grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI was to produce fully captioned YouTube videos on topics of interest and relevance to those with hearing loss. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI).  Thanks to that grant we were able to set up our own YouTube Channel and produce six short videos with the funding received:

The YouTube videos have been an integral part of our outreach activities, and have attracted an audience on three continents….that we are aware of:  North America, Europe, and Australia.

As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019. Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss. If you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

“I Love My Looping Chair”

November 25, 2019.  Every year we get asked about holiday gift ideas that would be of interest and use to people with hearing loss.  A few gift ideas were featured in a YouTube video (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss) and you were invited to let us know about your favourite items.

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

Rheal Leger went above and beyond, sending us a video clip of him demonstrating the chair loop pad, which he calls his looping chair, that he uses to watch TV.  After purchasing it a year ago, he wrote us about his experience:  “My goodness it works. I hear in both ears – genius device. We have a hideaway bed. I installed the device underneath the cushion. Then I plugged it into the TV and voila. Very easy to install. I could have also put the device under the sofa. For it to work you need to be seated where the device is.  This is a gem. It is the best listening device that I have ever owned.”  Clarity of sound.  You can’t beat that!

You can watch the video for yourself:

After seeing the video, Graham Hocking, who was featured in our YouTube video “What Is A Car Loop?” wrote: “Excellently presented and explained by Rheal and very clear. Am sure many of your viewers will be interested in purchasing one for home.” (See https://youtu.be/Ca5cnPPCW64)

Thank you Rheal, and a huge thank you to Wendy Nattress, our post-production editor!  Do you have any favourite products you wish someone would consider giving as a gift item?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until April 28, 2020.

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019 “Christmas Dreams”, held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

“Doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers”

November 18, 2019.  I’m very happy when readers reach out to share ideas, tips, react to previous postings.  Not long ago, Dr. Jan Blustein of New York reacted to a previous posting about the pocket talker for law firms project that ran here several years ago.  In this project, designed to better understand communication challenges that can occur between the legal community and people with hearing loss, law firms received tips on improving communications and had a pocket talker available for clients with hearing loss.  It’s made a difference to the lives of many people with mild hearing loss, who were first introduced to a pocket talker, and helped bring awareness of hearing loss issues to the law community.  (See A Pocket Talker Changed My Life, Pocket Talkers Available At ALL Stewart McKelvey Offices In Maritimes, and “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

In an email with the subject heading ‘doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers’, Dr Blustein wroteI’m a physician and researcher at New York University, and along with some colleagues are doing a randomized controlled trial of pocket talkers in our local Veteran’s hospital — we’re looking to see if the Vets like them, and whether they help them to understand what’s going on.  So far, they love them, the staff love them, but we haven’t looked at the outcomes.

New York University is a research facility, and it was great to hear that medical researchers such as Dr Blustein are looking at hearing loss issues and how it can impact patient care.  Per a brief bio from New York University, her research “focuses on hearing loss and its consequences for health and quality of life for older Americans. That work spans clinical, epidemiologic, and policy dimensions. She has reported on the influence of hearing loss on patient-physician communication, the association of hearing loss with patient activation, and the relationship between hearing loss and such standard measures of quality as 30-day hospital readmission.”  (See https://wagner.nyu.edu/community/faculty/jan-blustein)

Dr Blustein sent an article written with two of her colleagues, Barbara E. Weinstein and Joshua Chodosh, plus an accompanying link to this podcast from the British Medical Journal… it’s meant to increase awareness for MDs and nurses.”  The article, ‘Tackling hearing loss to improve the care of older adults’ was straight to the point in discussing some of the many challenges faced by people with hearing loss in medical situations.  (You can read the entire article here: Blustein Weinstein Chodosh BMJ) The article starts off explaining that “The World Health Organization estimates that disabling hearing loss affects nearly a third of people aged 65 and older around the world.”  The authors point out that hearing loss in people is growing, and is “now the fourth leading cause of years lived with a disability globally.

Then comes the important point….. “But the implications tend to be overlooked.  Clinical care is often delivered in settings where people with hearing loss struggle to understand speech.  Communication is key for healthcare quality and safety, so people with hearing loss are at risk of receiving poor care.”  I can attest to that, after being a patient in a hospital for three miserable days and nights in June.  (Once I am able to write about that experience without getting upset, I may do so.)

Dr Blustein and her colleagues note that “Many healthcare settings – especially acute care settings – are difficult listening situations.  In wards and emergency departments, alarms are beeping, competing conversations are under way, and spaces often have poor sound insulation.”  Anyone who has spent any time in a hospital can attest to that!

The authors explain that in interviews with older adults they have uncovered “many problems that lead to mishearing or misinterpretation in healthcare settings, including excessive noise, multiple concurrent speakers, failure to speak face to face, unfamiliar accents, and new terminology.

Advice for communicating with patients with hearing loss is given in the article, and the suggestion is made for hearing assistive devices being provided.  All good advice…. if it’s followed…  In my situation in June, only the surgeon had the ongoing courtesy and empathy to make sure I could hear him.  He made sure to face me, and spoke clearly.

Several years ago, pocket talkers were provided to hospitals here on Prince Edward Island.  Instead of being placed on the wards, where nursing staff might be more inclined to use them as needed, and could become familiar with their use, the pocket talkers were locked up in the speech therapist’s office.  That made them unavailable on evenings and weekends, and unlikely to be asked for by busy staff on the wards.

Thank you to Dr. Jan Blustein for sharing her research article and podcast, and current research trial at the Veterans hospital.  Do you have an experience with pocket talkers that you would like to share?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until spring 2020.