British Academy of Audiology Response to Covid-19: NHS England Essential Activity for Audiology
March 20, 2020 at 2:04 PM
BAA strongly believes that maintaining access to good hearing for our patients/customers at this difficult time, particularly for those in self-isolation, self-distancing or key workers, is important.
Whilst there are significant safety implications for some, such as hearing alarms, announcements etc, being able to maintain good communication is essential for people’s wellbeing.
Guidance will depend on local regulations from employers; local guidance regarding PPE must be adhered to.
Advice applies to patients of all ages if not specified
On the whole, no new activity is recommended unless falling into one of the following categories, patients may, however, benefit from telephone consultation to ease anxiety, see below
BAA would recommend all services can lobby locally to maintain a skeleton emergency service, in addition to NHS 111, to support the following:
- Assessment of sudden sensorineural losses (current guidance from NHS England is to ring 111)
- Assessment of post-meningitic patients
- Follow up of bilateral newborn screen referrals (initially by telephone, then managed on a case-by-case basis)
- Hearing aid repairs for all current users – delivered remotely, by post service, where safe by drop-off/collection (either in the department, from home, from an agreed point in the community e.g. private provider)
- Consideration should be given to repairs for key workers, carers, paediatrics, vulnerable adults and those under end of life care
- Impressions – where possible limit activity as unable to maintain 1m distance from the patient, special consideration should be given to key workers, carers, paediatrics, vulnerable adults and severe-profound losses, those under end of life care
- Replacement of lost aids – following above guidance for impressions, the first choice would be using reprinted ear moulds.
- Monitoring for ototoxicity patients, on Consultant request if safe for the patient.
- When it is not possible to issue new moulds or for urgent request when the patient has no current hearing aids, consideration should be given to issuing a communicator.
Alternative ways of working:
It is suggested that all patients, where appropriate, are triaged by telephone.
Many face-to-face appointments can be replaced with telephone/skype consultations – e.g. tinnitus counselling, vestibular rehabilitation, hearing aid follow up, giving instructions to patients following hearing aids been fitted via a coupler and posted.
Services may wish to collaborate with other providers who may be under less strict restrictions or not requiring staff to be redeployed, for example looking to local private hearing health suppliers to be community help points for battery replacement or troubleshooting on a case-by-case basis. Please liaise with your local provider on what they might be able to do
Many local Deaf Societies are offering relay services for BSL interpretation.
Giving patients/customers access to online resources such as manufacturer’s user videos and C2Hear to support self-management.
Please contact your own hearing aid manufacturer for signposting to appropriate online resources as we believe they have appropriate resources.
C2Hear online https://c2hearonline.com/
The C2Hear interactive multimedia videos improve the lives of new hearing-aid users. Research funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research created C2Hear. This comprises videos, animations, photos, and patient testimonials to provide valuable advice and information to help new hearing aid users to better use their hearing aids.
We would ask our members to consider the following document during times of potential redeployment:
and to read the advice from the registration bodies here:
We are seeking clarity on the home nations.
The Scottish Government state on their website:
Our approach is guided by the Chief Medical Officer, and we continue to monitor the situation closely and to work with the WHO and the international community. We are working with the Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive, and the UK Government to respond to the ongoing outbreak.
NHS Wales is directing people to the UK government advice.
Audiology in Northern Ireland has been instructed to stop all routine service.
BAA Board will continue to collate evidence and examples of possible service models for the continuing provision of NHS Audiology services during these next few weeks and months.
We would encourage you to share your experiences with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download response: BAA Response to Covid-19