People with learning disabilities are more likely to have a hearing loss than the general population, but are less likely to have their hearing problem diagnosed or managed.
Difficulties in access, misconceptions around assessment and a lack of aftercare are all factors in this. Undiagnosed hearing loss can cause significant problems in the life of a PWLD. Without training and education, carers do not have the expertise to detect hearing loss and manage hearing aids adequately. Even basic training could make a difference and a simple checklist to identify possible hearing difficulties is presented. Further research is needed in this area. INSETS: Who cares;15-point checklist to identify possible hearing difficulties.
The prevalence of hearing loss among people with learning disabilities is considerably higher than in the general population, yet few clients access audiology services. This article refers to a case study to illustrate how the needs of people with learning disabilities who may have hearing loss can be met.
It proposes a number of cost-effective solutions that emphasise flexible, individualised approaches to care. These solutions are organised into three themes, access, assessment and aftercare, which the authors call the 3As. Together, they offer a continuum of care for individuals that should be championed by appropriate practitioners in multidisciplinary teams. The 3As model is also relevant to other aspects of health care and improvement.
People with intellectual disabilities are more likely to have hearing loss than the general population. For those unable to self-advocate, the responsibility of detection and management falls to their caregivers.
This is the first cycle of a project using action research methodology to improve services. Twenty care workers were interviewed to understand their knowledge of hearing loss and hearing aids. Themes were generated using thematic analysis.
This group was better qualified than their peers but received minimal training in hearing loss. They were unable to accurately estimate expected prevalence and had a negative perception of hearing aids. Only 7% of service users were known to have hearing loss.
Current training is not sufficient to provide the skills for detection and management of hearing problems. This group had clear ideas on methods of learning. Working in collaboration is necessary to achieve long-term change to practice.
People with learning disabilities are at a higher risk of hearing loss, but are less likely to have this diagnosed or managed. Although the reasons are varied, poor caregiver awareness is commonly mentioned.
Training has often been suggested as a method to increase knowledge, although there are few studies in the literature, and it has been difficult to demonstrate change to practice as a result of training. This project worked with caregivers collaboratively, to design and implement training to meet their needs and the needs of those they support. The result was an increase in knowledge and a transformation of knowledge to action. Although this meant some individuals were referred to secondary care, it also highlighted certain barriers in primary care that must now be investigated.
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To improve access to, and aftercare from, audiology services for people with learning disabilities.
Semi-structured interviews were completed and interpreted using thematic analysis. Nine practitioners were interviewed across seven GP practices including three GPs and six practice nurses.
Four central themes emerged from the interviews: awareness of audiology, roles and responsibilities, assumptions and barriers, and enablers.
In primary care, people with learning disabilities and hearing loss are being assessed but detection and management of the condition is not occurring. Healthcare professionals need education and training on hearing loss to establish the benefits of treating adults with learning disabilities.
It is important to be aware of hearing loss as it affects everyday life and gets worse with age in all adults. Many people with learning disabilities do not have their hearing checked, and families or carers often struggle to notice hearing problems.
This study summarises previous research on hearing loss and old age for people with learning disabilities. Large numbers of older people with learning disabilities were found to have hearing problems, but smaller numbers were aware of this before testing. Everyone with learning disabilities should be aware of how important hearing is and have regular checks, especially before they reach old age.
Background: Hearing loss has a significant impact on living well and on communication in all adults, with the numbers affected increasing with age, and adults with learning disabilities being at particular risk.
A review of the literature on hearing loss in older adults with learning disabilities was completed.
A significant increase in hearing loss with increasing age in this group was demonstrated, at a greater level than in the general population. Prevalence rates have been the main focus of research, with few considerations of access to hearing assessment or benefits of rehabilitation such as hearing aids, or the effect that age has on living with hearing loss.
With advances in audiology services and increased life expectancy of those with learning disabilities, further research would be valuable. In addition, all health and social care services should consider actively promoting hearing assessment and rehabilitation. Individuals, carers and families should also take action, not only when concerns around memory arise, but proactively for all.