Practice team guide

Clear communication

OT  talks with dispensing optician Maryna Hura about improving the practice experience for patients with hearing loss

ear and speech bubbles

Healthcare appointments can be a daunting experience for patients with hearing loss.

In a busy practice environment, there can be barriers to effective communication – both with patients whose first language is British sign language (BSL) and for those who have lost hearing over time.

OT hears from dispensing optician Maryna Hura about how every member of the practice team can make the journey smoother for patients with hearing loss.

Establishing preferences

Maryna Hura
Hura, who has a Level 2 qualification in BSL, highlighted that it is important to establish the preferred method of communication early in the consultation. 

“Some deaf people can speak very well, some may be able to hear to a certain extent with the use of hearing aids, while others rely on BSL interpreters,” she said.

Hura shared that only 30–40% of what is said in English is lip-readable – while this form of communication also requires a lot of concentration and can be mentally taxing.

“Written communication using pen and paper may be appropriate in some situations,” she said.

Hura added that technology may also assist communication – such as speech to text applications.

Above all, be friendly and patient

Maryna Hura

Avoiding miscommunication

Navigating healthcare, including eye care, can be challenging for people with hearing loss, Hura shared.

“There is a potential for miscommunication between the practitioner and the patient, which can lead to errors, missed information and misunderstood advice,” she said.
Hura highlighted visual aids and images can help a patient understand better what is happening during an eye examination and the outcomes of the consultation.

She added that practice staff should not assume that patients understand medical or optical terms.

It is important that practices offer alternatives to a phone call for getting in touch as this can be challenging for people with hearing loss.

Hura shared that these alternatives could include text messaging, text relay or online services.

To increase accessibility, practice staff should check how patients would like to receive and share information. These preferences can be annotated in the patient record.