Organised by the British Academy of Audiology, the 16th annual conference and exhibition took place on the 14th and 15th November 2019 at the ACC Liverpool.

Attracting nearly 500 delegates and 50 exhibitors along with an array of international speakers, BAA conference is the largest audiology conference in the UK.

The conference certainly was the place to be for announcements and launches this year. President, Sue Falkingham, opened the conference with an announcement about the discussions on the college of audiology. You can read her full statement here. What followed was two great days that included 55 lectures and workshops, 25 POD talks, 48 exhibition stands, 11 award winners, more than 100 posters and hundreds of audiologists, scientists, researchers, clinicians and students who were keen to learn about the latest research, best practice and technological innovations.

Our conference programme this year had a strong clinical focus as we feel this is what we do best in BAA and follows guidance from our delegate feedback from previous years. There were updates from the world of research, overviews of policy updates, exciting service innovations and examples of clinical excellence. Our main aim is always for delegates to leave the conference with a clear idea of how they can implement what they have heard in their own departments or careers. All our invited speakers summarised their talks with the popular ‘3 things to do on Monday’ message. Key sessions covered paediatric assessment, vestibular updates for both assessment and rehabilitation, how to deliver patient-centred care, implementing new technology in both the NHS and Private Sector and implantable devices.

We continued with our streamlined programme with only three main parallel tracks, there was a range of invited speakers and free papers and after lunch each day longer workshops. We had a number of new additions for 2019, on Thursday the walk-through dementia clinic was brilliant. Audiologists could review and find resources on display for their own clinic and speak to experts in the field. On Friday IDA Paediatric workshop was a sell-out. Friday afternoon brought the return of the successful CRN workshop for those looking to incorporate research into their clinical role. During the breaks, the short presentations and demonstrations in our new Pods in the exhibition hall was a welcome addition to the schedule.

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Conference highlights included:

  • The Adrian Davis lecture presented by John Day, Clinical Director of Audiology, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
  • The Bamford lecture presented by Professor De Wet Swanepoel, President of the International Society of Audiology
  • Other Keynote speakers Professor Larry Humes, Indiana University Bloomington and Dr Sally Rosengren, University of Sydney
  • Parallel sessions looking at all aspects of Audiology across all sectors from research to clinical practice, encompassing commercial aspects.
  • Thursday walk-through dementia-friendly clinic room
  • Friday IDA Paediatric Workshop
  • Friday afternoon’s Clinical Research Workshop
  • The closing keynote by Justin Osmond was an inspiration for all

Free paper and poster presentations form an integral part of the conference and are a fantastic way for those working within the audiology field to share best practice, research and network with colleagues. Winning poster submissions can be found on page xx

Awards

Every year at the BAA Annual Conference, we take the time to acknowledge those individuals and teams who have excelled or shown exceptional commitment to the Audiology profession over the past year. A complete overview of this year’s winners can be found in the awards article on page xx

New President at the AGM

During our Annual General Meeting on Thursday, we welcomed a new President, Karen Shepherd, and new Vice President, Kathryn Lewis. After two years as President, Sue Falkingham takes the position of Immediate Past President, with Board’s huge thanks and admiration for her dedication over the last two years. You can find a two-page review of the year past financial year on the website.

See you later this year in Manchester on 26th and 27th November.

Conference reviews from a member and an early professional

Saira Hussain reviews her two days at conference 2019

Day 1
There’s always a buzz in the audiology community around the time of a BAA conference, and this year’s in Liverpool did not disappoint! The venue was at the ACC next to the docks which make for a lovely morning stroll. Staff at the registration booths provided a quick check-in, lanyards with a summarised programme for ease of use, and bright backpacks (any returned will be donated to charitable efforts in India).

Sue Falkingham, now past president of the BAA, opened the event with the enthusiasm and passion she is well known for. The 16th BAA conference had well and truly started! Sue welcomed delegates and swiftly provided clarity around the BAA’s position on their involvement in the new proposed College of Audiology –
this is to opt-out of current negotiations with a view to return to the table at a later date. She stated it was not an easy decision but the BAA board wanted to ensure they were listening to the voice of their members but to also do right by them.

The first talk of the day, the Adrian Davis lecture, was given by John Day who discussed the audiology processes in Wales and the impact that this has had. The different governing structures and regional makeups have allowed for improved access and outcomes for patients. This was followed by the first round of prize
giving’s at the award ceremonies. Nominations were presented and the winners were called to the stage for their awards and photos – well deserved to all! The second talk of the morning was from Professor Larry Hulmes at Indiana University who shared his research on the evaluation and treatment of Age-Related Hearing Loss.

As always, a host of breakout sessions were available from an array of speakers. For me, a highlight of the morning was Laura Turton’s talk on rethinking the social history. This looked at the patient’s considerations, attitudes and lifestyle that helps the patient and clinician’s navigation through the appointment. She also discussed some perceptions around feasibility and time and helped provide tips in regards to the implementation of this. And we haven’t even got to lunch!

A new addition to this year’s conference was the Dementia Clinic Experience. Small groups were shown around the room with a dedicated member of the experience
team to talk through various points. This included signage which should be at eye-level, looking at materials available in waiting rooms as well as written signs that provide notice to a patient that they would be called through shortly. The experience highlighted the small changes we could to help the experience of visiting an audiology practice or site.

Lunch included a varied buffet which allowed for networking within the exhibition space – always a great environment. Highlights this year included cake (lots of cake!), Phonak’s image printing coffee machine and as always, the passport prize. There was also a range of posters available – it’s always great to see what work is going on around the UK (and beyond!) especially so from students too.

The Annual General Meeting also ran through lunch where a new ‘Year in Review’ leaflet was distributed to BAA members. This showcased the achievements and endeavours of the BAA from April 2018 to March 2019, including a breakdown of
conference highlights, membership and communication platforms.

The afternoon continued with more breakout options, including a wonderful intriguing session called ‘Hidden Hearing Loss in Mice & Men’. A great session on the changes to NICE candidacy by Martin O’Driscoll and Anne-Marie Dickinson provided an overview of the new guidelines. They also discussed the training needs for audiology team members to ensure patients are being referred where possible.

Slido was in full use during all the sessions as a great interactive method to ask questions and share thoughts through the talks. I finished the first day by attending the free paper sessions from Georgina Bruns-O’Connell from the BTA and Amanda
Hall’s paper on a mixed-methods study on the management of hearing loss of OME in children with Down’s syndrome.

As the day turned into night, delegates turned into party-goers… with a few pineapples in tow! The meetups continued into the night for the evening’s fun! The theme this year was ‘a night in Havana’ with karaoke, drinks and food!

Day 2
Friday lectures started bright and early with new President Karen Shepherd introducing the day ahead, having thanked Sue for her hard work over the past few years for all that she has achieved with the BAA. The Bamford lecture was given by Professor De Wet Swanepoel who shared insights into the use of e-health in audiology across South Africa. He shared the high rates of audiology screening and testing through the use of devices that allowed for larger coverage across the different towns and cities. These are cost-effective methods allowing for better
access to care – it was easy to see how this could be implemented across the world!

Prizes were then presented for the Lisa Bayliss and Student of the Year awards also – wonderful winners who have gone above and beyond their course requirements! Well done! The Keynote Lecture was delivered by Sally Rosengren who discussed
changes to our knowledge about balance and the vestibular system. She highlighted how vHITs and o-VEMPs have contributed to diagnostic values and what this means for our patients.

This was followed by poster viewings and some wonderful discussions with
presenters over refreshments. I stayed in the balance track for most of the morning, and by the end of it, I was feeling dizzy with the information (pardon the pun). There was information on the current evidence base for vestibular neuritis, VEMPS and PPD. A highlight was some ‘before and after’ videos of patients with vestibular dysfunction following traumatic brain injuries.

It was impossible to attend everything so after a regroup with my work colleagues, we had an action plan of where to go! The IDA institute also held a workshop of new paediatric tools to help support our children and young people. Throughout the two days, there were parallel sponsor tracks, as well as the new addition for this conference – SPARK Pod talks! Think silent disco meets bums on seats for a short lecture! Topics ranged from meeting the BAA board to short research bursts. John
Waters discussed IT tips that could be used in the workplace and Suren Dayalji
shared his STP project findings.

Lunch included more networking as well as prizes for the passport competition –some pretty great treats! Following a final lap of the exhibition space and speaking to the knowledgeable reps, I went to the last few sessions of the day. The BAA Service Quality Committee shared tips for supporting patients with various
types of losses – these handy hints were feasible and you could see how you’d be
able to implement this in the clinic.

Day 2 ended with the most inspiring talk of all; Justin Osmond (of the Osmond family) shared his experience. He shared many inspirational videos and messages, especially about his journey with hearing loss in a musical family and the role that audiologists and all its associated professions played. He discussed the background of The Hearing Fund Charity UK and the work they are involved in – his latest feat of running 250,000 miles in order to obtain hearing devices for 25 children.

President Karen Shepherd closed the conference with thoughts that echoed those of Justin’s; our profession can be impactful and it’s important to remember what we can bring to the table and our role in the lives of those we see in audiology.
All in all, the conference has been an opportunity for CPD, to meet colleagues
old and new, but to also remember our impact on the people we work with
within our profession – in Justin’s words – “… Audiologists aren’t just his heroes,
we’re his heAr-oes!”

Here’s to BAA Annual Conference 2020 on 26th & 27th November at the Manchester Central Convention Complex!

BAA conference: Fresh perspectives (Keir Cox)

I am currently a Trainee Clinical Scientist in audiology, and I attended my first BAA conference in Liverpool, 2019.

I was excited to attend my first conference as I was keen to increase my awareness of current and upcoming aspects of research in audiology and learn key tools to develop my clinical practice. As someone who is relatively new to the profession, I was unsure what to expect, but I left feeling very positive and inspired.

The conference was seamlessly organised, held at a great venue and the content was all of a high quality. Impressively, a wide field of audiology was condensed into the two days and the programme contained something for everyone, from updates and reflections on current practice, to areas of future development.

As part of my training, we are required to carry out our own research. For this reason, I found the display of research posters and research-focused talks extremely helpful, as well as the overall focus on research throughout the conference. Between the talks I really enjoyed having the time to browse the exhibition stands, talking to professional bodies and discovering the latest technologies within audiology from major manufacturers. I would highly recommend that anyone who is considering a career in research to attend future conferences, as the knowledge gained of research topics and methods is invaluable. In addition, many leading academic researchers and clinicians attended the conference, which provided a fantastic opportunity to network.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the talks I attended but a particular highlight for me was; Managing Severe Depression in the Tinnitus Clinic (Prof David Baguley, Dr Derek Hoare and Dr Elizabeth Marks). In my opinion, it was the most thought-provoking talk at the conference. The speakers discussed the sensitive topic of depression and suicide in patients with tinnitus and the symptoms we should mindful of, which highlight an increased risk of suicide within this patient group.

The talk on The Balance of Testing in the Testing of Balance (Prof Chris Degg) was also amongst my favourites. Professor Degg managed to perfectly condense the complex and vast topic of vestibular audiology into a clear and well-explained talk. I also enjoyed the talk on Amplification & Hearing, Listening and Cognition (Dr Doug Beck) as the enthusiasm expressed by Dr Beck was inspiring and truly gripped the audience.

After a full day of talks and exhibitions, it was great to unwind during the evening social events, allowing time to socialise with work colleagues as well as meeting new people.

One aspect I believe could be improved for future conferences is extending the shorter 20 minutes talks by 10-15 minutes. This would allow more time to delve deeper into the subject after the topic has been introduced. I feel this would help create a balance between presenting more general information regarding the topic and more specific aspects. As a trainee, I also feel it would be beneficial for the talks to be categorised into different levels of expertise, as I felt for some talks, I lacked the prior knowledge required to fully understand the information being presented.

On reflection, I feel it would have been beneficial if I had read the programme more thoroughly prior to arriving at the conference, which would have better prepared me when choosing which talks to attend. With so many amazing talks available, it was difficult to choose, so preparation is key!

I look forward to attending future BAA conferences and believe the knowledge I have gained from this year’s conference will greatly help to develop my skills in research and clinical practice.

Thank you to our 2019 Platinum Sponsors

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