Last week I had a hearing assessment with the best audiologist in the UK.
My hearing history
About a year ago my husband began commenting that I wasn’t hearing him. I thought he was just moaning and ignored him if I am honest. I didn’t notice I had any issues with my hearing. I usually watch TV with the subtitles on because I only watch it at night in bed and as I use a noisy ventilator, I’ve found it much easier to follow if I can read the dialogue. I also work on my own from home and most of my communication in life is written. I suppose not realising my hearing wasn’t quite right was situational.
Over time though I had to keep saying pardon to the kids, I struggled at the theatre and in cafes with background music and Jonny, my other half, nagged on and on about me getting an assessment. So I realised that maybe I should get it checked over. The thought of another round of hospital appointments didn’t fill me with glee. I have to attend many medical appointments with one of my children and due to my bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis, I really could not face much more hanging around at hospitals. It took me a long time to agree. I think my denial was really partly a reluctance to start the journey to sorting it out.
Initially I went for a free hearing check at large high street pharmacy chain who offer free hearing tests near where I live. The service was efficient and speedy but I left feeling a bit confused and upset. On a return visit it was confirmed I had moderate hearing loss in both ears and would need wear hearing aids. This was decided after a test was carried out on equipment which was partially broken which didn’t instil me with much faith. It all seemed a little rushed, I didn’t really understand the problem and the different hearing aid options I was shown really confused me.
I was upset.
A different experience
Blogging like all strands of journalism I suppose takes you down some unusual roads and last week I ended up having an entirely different experience at Hearing Healthcare Practice based in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. This bespoke hearing healthcare provider has been operating for over more than 35 years under the leadership of the UK and European top audiologist Robert Beiny and a team of equally respected clinicians, Jo Rae and Sanna Aziz.
The basic hearing test I previously had was transformed into a Hearing, Listening and Communication Abilities Assessment and from the moment you step into the practice you feel taken care of. It has an almost spa like feel, very relaxing and beautifully decorated and everyone I met was warm, friendly and welcoming. It doesn’t feel medical or embarrassing, more nurturing. I immediately felt more at ease about my assessment. Environments and people are so important aren’t they?
The team obviously appreciate how some people might feel about coming in the first time so they go out of their way to put everyone at their ease.
Hearing Healthcare Practice offer a holistic experience. I felt heard (no pun intended) and really listened to which was really different to my earlier experience. Nothing was rushed and it seemed that whilst I was there I was the centre of attention and that no question was too trivial to spend time answering. I felt a truly individual approach was taken.
I had a lot of tests and Robert Beiny was endlessly kind and patient, explaining step by step what he was assessing and why. He is clearly highly experienced and knowledgeable and I trusted his expertise completely yet you also feel that together you are working towards a hearing solution rather than this is something being done to you.
At the heart of the holistic approach is an Individual Treatment Plan that each audiologist creates for their clients. Robert explained that no two plans are the same and I should view my plan as a collaborative road map setting out a journey which we’ll travel on together. The plan is always updated and amended to deal with things that come up on route.
I have had some awful medical experiences in the past two years related to my paralysis where things just were not explained to me clearly and were extremely rushed. I do not blame my consultants as I know the pressure on the NHS is huge and time is a luxury.
At the end of my 2½ hour assessment at the practice though, it felt so respectful to have my health issues discussed properly and in such detail I could fully understand them. It felt empowering. As with most things in life, I suppose you do get what you pay for and we all search for ways to save and stretch our budgets and far as we can. When it comes to our healthcare and wellbeing maybe taking this route might not be in our best interest. Hearing Healthcare Practice don’t provide a cheap buy one get one free route. This is a service for people who want the very best that’s on offer and the difference in experience between the two I found rather huge.
My diagnosis was made and I do need to start to use hearing technology to improve my hearing ability and other healthcare benefits. This time I feel absolutely sure I understand the issues and why I need to proceed. And I feel better about it all because of the time and care and patience and expertise involved. I trust this diagnosis and I do feel a lot more positive now about the journey ahead to getting my hearing sorted
A fabulous example of a quality healthcare assessment
Oh and for the record, it’s not just me who calls them the UK’s best audiologists. Hearing Healthcare Practice has received a record 10 accolades in the Audiologist of the Year Awards (the Hearing Industry Oscars) winning not only UK Audiologist of the Year Award twice but also the Best European Audiologist Award as well