When you go to the audiologist, do you feel like they are taking an interest in you as a unique person? Is the appointment centered on your specific communication needs rather than the devices? Do you feel involved in your care – an equal partner whose input is valued and respected? The answer to all of these questions should be yes, especially if your audiologist practices person-centered care.
Person-centered care (PCC) is a growing trend in healthcare that applies equally to the field of audiology. PCC empowers people to take a role in their own health rather than passively receiving services.
Research shows that including the patient’s views, input and experiences in their care improves overall health outcomes. That makes sense to me.
Why Should People with Hearing Loss Care About PCC?
PCC sounds technical, and something that audiologists and doctors should worry about, so why is it important for us – the people with hearing loss to understand what it is and how to look for it? There are many reasons.
First, it helps us be an educated consumer. The more we know about what constitutes high quality audiological care, the better we will be at making sure that we get it. When we know what to expect, we can demand the care we deserve.
Second, it teaches us what to look for in a good audiologist. Sometimes my hearing loss friends complain that their audiologists don’t seem to listen, or care about their needs. This is not acceptable, and if we know that, we will feel more comfortable finding someone who does.
Third, it puts us in charge of our health. An audiologist that practices PCC will partner with us in our care. This is empowering and will increase the chances that we receive the best advice to navigate our specific communication challenges.
Person-centered Care in Four Easy Steps
In my e-book Person-centered Care from the Patient’s Perspective, I lay out my formula for person-centered care from the person with hearing loss’ point of view and share suggestions for how audiologists can incorporate each component of PCC into their daily interactions with us. It contains four main parts.
Partner with Your Patient. This means that each person’s hearing loss journey is unique so a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Focusing on what is important to the person with hearing loss will increase their satisfaction with their treatment.
Make Your Office Hearing Loss Friendly. I urge audiologists to remember that people are there because they cannot hear well. They must train their staff to use communication best practices and have assistive listening technology on hand to aid as needed.
Embrace Creativity. Audiologists sometimes get trapped in a hearing aid only approach, but this is not truly effective. Linking aids to other assistive listening devices gives people with hearing loss greater access in a wider variety of situations.
Think Beyond the Technology. I remind audiologists to teach their patients about communication best practices and encourage them to share these tips with family and friends. Sometimes small changes in behavior can have just as much benefit as technology fixes on the quality of communication.
First in a Series of Articles on PCC for Consumers
The mission of FindHearing is to inform, educate and empower consumers about the importance of hearing healthcare. In my role as Editor of this section for HHTM, I am excited to help create informative and useful content for hearing health professionals and the consumers they serve. I believe an educated consumer makes better decisions regarding their hearing health care and am excited that FindHearing’s mission promotes this process.
My first task will be a series of posts describing person-centered care and the signposts consumers should look for when seeking an audiologist who practices this form of high-quality care. This post is the first in that series. The others will delve more deeply into the four aspects noted above and provide key metrics people with hearing loss can use to make sure their audiologists are practicing PCC in their treatment.
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, and avid Bikram yogi. She is the founder of Living With Hearing Loss, a blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with Shari: Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.