BIHIMA survey highlights benefits of hearing instruments for inclusion

The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association said it would like to see hearing care made a greater priority by Government

child with hearing aid

The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) is advocating for hearing care to be made a greater priority by the Government, highlighting how hearing technology can support inclusion.

In recognition of Deaf Awareness Week (1–7 May), which focused on inclusion, BIHIMA illustrated the benefits that hearing technology can provide, but also pointed out barriers to access.

There are an estimated 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss, the association highlighted.

A Eurotrak UK survey of 15,000 people revealed that 90% of hearing instrument users found their hearing devices were useful for their job, BIHIMA shared, with a strong consensus that hearing instrument usage correlated with improved job opportunities.

The survey also found that those using hearing instruments were less likely to feel depressed and experienced a higher quality of sleep than hearing impaired individuals without hearing technology.

In addition, 66% of those who owned hearing instruments felt they should have obtained them sooner.

Paul Surridge, BIHIMA chairman, noted that the benefits of hearing instruments contribute to the way an individual navigates daily life, and the feeling of inclusion, adding: “Our survey found that those who regularly wore hearing devices felt they could communicate more effectively in most situations, had an improved social life, more confidence and participated more in group activities.”

The survey also revealed reasons that individuals don’t wear their hearing instruments.

Identifying factors as a ‘reason or somewhat a reason’ for not wearing their hearing instruments, survey respondents cited: discomfort (67%), lack of severity of their hearing impairment (65%), and not restoring their hearing ‘back to normal’ (56%).

BIHIMA suggested these findings indicate a need for improvements in the fitting and aftercare for hearing instruments.

“We know that there are people who simply don’t use their hearing instruments and they end up sitting in a drawer,” highlighting the ability of the technology to “change people’s lives,” Surridge said: “Rehabilitation and personalisation are fundamental to ensure patients make use of and benefit from their hearing instruments.”

Access can be an issue for many patients, BIHIMA suggested, such as waiting times that require patients to wait “weeks or even months” for an initial appointment to assess their hearing.

“We also find that those within poorer socioeconomic demographics, minority groups, homeless individuals and people with addictions are facing their own barriers to obtaining support for their hearing loss,” Surridge said.

BIHIMA called for hearing care to be made a greater priority by the Government, suggesting that hearing tests should be included for free as part of the NHS Health Check offered to people over the age of 40.

The association would also like to see more research conducted around the impact of hearing instrument usage.

Sharing the results of the survey, BIHIMA also outlined communication tips to support an individual with hearing loss and ensure the person feels included in conversations. Find out more on the association’s website.