Inequality in access to hearing care for older adults in residential homes
White, Joanna D.
Steenkamp, E. H.
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White, J. D., Johnson, C., DePlacido, C., Matthews, B. & Steenkamp, E. H. (2019) Inequality in access to hearing care for older adults in residential homes. Journal of Public Health, 43(1), pp. 172-177.
Background The population of older people in residential homes is projected to rise. There are unrecognized hearing difficulties among residents and prevalence of hearing loss in this population is underreported. This can result in an overestimation of levels of cognitive impairment. Untreated hearing loss is associated with social isolation, depression, disruptive behaviour and cognitive decline. This study aimed to explore the provision of hearing care (hearing assessment, rehabilitation and staff training) in Scottish care homes for older people.Methods A survey comprising 18 questions was distributed to the managers (or designated staff members) of 659 care homes across Scotland.Results Responses were obtained from 154 care homes. The results support existing evidence that hearing is not assessed in the majority of homes, resulting in under detection of hearing loss. Staff lack training in supporting residents’ hearing needs. Access to hearing care in residential homes differs across health board areas.Conclusions There is an urgent requirement for hearing assessment of older adults on admission to residential care. Care providers require this information to construct effective care plans and mitigate the effects of hearing loss. Those responsible for providing hearing rehabilitation services require information about service users to address any unmet need.