Congratulations to the team behind the programme,

Hearing checks at home for children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both

for winning the Scottish government’s award for driving improvement, delivering results – healthcare science. The full list of audiologists and healthcare scientists involved in this award-winning initiative and details of the programme can be found on the BAA website.

COVID-19 enabled the team to think innovatively about pathway redesigns and creative ways to deliver COVID safe hearing checks to children and young people with learning disabilities and autism. Attending hospital can be challenging during normal times for parents with children who have complex needs. They trained parents to perform some of the checks at home, using a smartphone otoscope that enables remote review and a tympanometry. They produced manuals, social stories and provided virtual training sessions to support the parents to
deliver ear checks to many children who had not tolerated testing traditionally. Parents felt empowered and valued, reporting that performing ear checks at home was preferential to checks at the clinic and children were less distressed in their own environment.

They empowered parents to deliver ear checks using innovative technology that enables remote review, in a COVID safe way. Parents were trained using teleconferencing software. The model was co-produced to ensure the project met the needs of the service user. Children with learning disabilities and autism were able to access ear checks in a safe environment.

The judges said the project was clear and innovative, using simple to use technology and a supportive and collaborative approach. There is already demonstrable benefit to patients, despite this being a feasibility study. The project is powerful in terms of inclusivity and its potential to tackle inequalities within communities.

The award-winning team

Jack Stancel-Lewis, Healthcare Science Fellow & Audiologist, NHS England and NHS Improvement
Ruth Thomsen, Scientific Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement NHS England and NHS Improvement

Team Members:

Keiran Joseph, Clinical Lead: Children and Young People’s Audiology Centre, St Thomas’ Hospital
Sarah Laister, Senior Paediatric Audiologist, St Thomas’ Hospital
Michelle Chung, Senior Paediatric Audiologist, St Thomas’ Hospital
Professor Adrian Davis, Honorary Professor Hearing and Communication, UCL
Gwen Carr, Senior Research Associate, UCL
Mary Busk, Senior Family Carer Adviser, NHS England and NHS Improvement
Jean-Pierre Maciel, Project Manager, NHS England and NHS Improvement

The Advancing Healthcare Awards is a unique awards programme which recognises, celebrates and rewards the work of allied health professionals, healthcare scientists and those who work alongside them in support roles.

The 2021 awards, now in their seventeenth year, launched in December 2020, at the end of a year when allied health professionals and healthcare scientists and the work that they do really took centre-stage. Entries closed in February and we were delighted to receive so many high quality submissions, particularly at a such a busy and challenging time.

More information about the awards can be found at and you can follow on Twitter @AHAwards for updates. The ceremony is available to view here.