We wanted to look at the experiences of people with hearing loss when they are accessing GP surgeries or hearing aid maintenance. We wanted to learn more about what works and what issues make it more difficult for people with hearing loss to access these services.
What did we do?
Healthwatch Bucks and Action on Hearing Loss in Buckinghamshire created a questionnaire to ask people with hearing loss about their experiences of accessing GP or hearing aid maintenance services.
From 1st February to 31st March 2017, the team at Action on Hearing Loss received 41 completed questionnaires. These 41 participants are people with varying degrees of hearing loss and were collected in a variety of settings.
We identified primary care, especially GP and dental services, as a strategic priority for 2016-17. We have also had feedback about difficulties accessing services for those with disabilities including those with hearing loss.
Action on Hearing Loss is the largest UK charity which helps people with hearing loss to live the life they choose. At a local level, Action on Hearing Loss in Buckinghamshire has excellent links across the county with those living with hearing loss.
What did we discover
Many participants said they find it difficult to make an appointment to see their GP with particular difficulties around communication methods and needs.
We also found that many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading as a way of engaging with practice staff. However, feedback indicated a general lack of deaf awareness, which could make this difficult, especially with reception staff.
The report also provides recommendations around accessibility for people with hearing loss, deaf awareness training for staff, especially those working in the front line and awareness around patients’ communication needs.
What are we doing to ensure the recommendations are achieved?
We will be sending these recommendations to the Clinical Commissioning Group and Bucks Healthcare Trust and ask for a response as to how they are being taken forward. Action on Hearing Loss and Healthwatch Bucks are happy to support the development of any action plans aimed at implementing these recommendations.