The Ida Institute is an organization for hearing healthcare professionals, which is something I’m not. I sit in the other chair in the clinic. I’m the one they put in the sound booth for my annual torture, uh, hearing evaluation. I’m the one who needs and uses the services of healthcare professionals.
So why am I such a big fan of the Ida Institute? Because of this, their stated mission:
The Ida Institute is an independent, non-profit organization working to integrate person-centered care in hearing rehabilitation. Together with hearing care professionals around the world, we develop free tools and resources to strengthen the counseling process.
If you are a hearing person – someone who does not have hearing loss – you might not understand the importance of the above statement. What it shows is a non-biased approach and commitment to meeting a client’s overall hearing needs, which includes dealing with the mental health stress that can accompany hearing loss. Until recently, the accepted and standard mode of treating hearing loss has been to slap hearing aids on us and shoo us out the door with a smile and best wishes!
Relatively few audiologists have offered counseling or practical advice on living successfully with hearing loss. Few have gone beyond the hearing aid and addressed the salad bar of communication strategies and technical accoutrements that complement our hearing aids. The reasons are many, including a lack of clinic time, fee schedules that don’t include compensation for counseling, and low knowledge of emerging smart technology. Added to these is the clinician’s belief in the hearing aid as the absolute solution to hearing loss.
“Help me learn how to communicate better.”
This is what we want from hearing healthcare professionals we trust and respect. We need our audiologist to understand that while the hearing aid may be the single best first step that a person can take, we need more to help us get though the day. We need our audiologist to help us sift through the mass of products and strategies and misleading information and who will involve us in decisions. This is client-centered care, which looks at the whole person, not just their faulty hearing system.
Client and Person-Centered Care
Client and person-centered care is the service standard goal of the Ida Institute, which was founded in 2007 with a grant from the William Demant Foundation. Stated on the homepage of the Ida Institute website you’ll see: Helping people hear is about knowing how to listen. This means rather than just using the audiogram (the results of a client’s hearing test) to gauge which particular hearing aid is the most suitable, the clinician will take the time to find out about the person’s life and listening needs.
This kind of care and service can lead to what I believe is crucial: the development of a positive, long-term relationship between the person with hearing loss and their hearing health care professional. This sounds simple, but to become a reality, a sea change in hearing health service standards is required and Ida Institute is leading the way.
I have promoted this concept for a long time in my articles, book and presentations (Me & My Audie). If you, the professional, will take time out from yammering about the newest greatest thing in hearing aids to listen to my questions about connectivity with emerging smart technology, I will love you. If you take the time to make sure I’m comfortable in disclosing my hearing loss and that I know how to have my needs met, I will recommend you to everyone I know. And if you help me realize that people with hearing loss have the right to be included and to participate, I will be your client forever.
This is the hearing health gospel that Ida Institute is promoting to the world through collaborations with hearing-related organizations at every level. This is why I love Ida – it is passionately committed to improving the quality of life for people like me.
Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for Hearing Health & Technology Matters, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.