If you care for someone with a hearing impairment you'll probably find that you have to assist them with practical matters and communication.
Hearing impairment is most common in older people but can happen at any age for a variety of reasons. Some people are born with hearing impairments.
Action on Hearing Loss estimates that there are more than 10 million (about 1 in 6) people in the UK with some degree of hearing impairment or deafness.
Hearing loss can occur suddenly, but usually develops gradually. General signs of hearing loss can include:
- difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say
- asking people to repeat themselves
- listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up higher than other people require
The NHS website has information on the causes of hearing loss, how it can be treated and prevented from getting worse.
Hard of Hearing Support Service - Hearing Help
Hearing Help is a local voluntary organisation which is commissioned by Derbyshire County Council to support people with hearing loss in Derbyshire. They offer information and advice and give demonstrations of the different types of environmental hearing equipment available that the person you support may benefit from using.
Hearing Help also run drop in sessions at venues in Ashbourne, Bakewell, Barlborough, Buxton, Chesterfield, Clay Cross, Darley Dale, Glossop, Ilkeston, Ripley and Swadlincote. Contact Hearing Help on tel: 01773 570976 or email: email@example.com
Communication Unlimited are contracted by Derbyshire County Council to provide communication support for Deaf people across Derbyshire, primarily British Sign Language interpreting and Deafblind communication. They have access to lipspeakers, notetakers and SSE communication.
You can also follow Communication Unlimited on Facebook.
Other local organisations
The following organisation offer support and advice for people with hearing loss and their carers in Derbyshire:
Support for Children with hearing loss can be sought from Derbyshire County Council on tel: 01332 833958
CamTad is a local voluntary organisation which supports people with hearing loss, primarily in Derby City, tel: 01332 258143
As well as support from local organisations, you can contact national charity Action on Hearing on their free Helpline tel: 0808 808 0123
Derbyshire Voluntary Action (DVA) have a directory of local community groups for people with hearing impairments.
Household Quotes also have lots of useful information and links about living with hearing loss.
Getting support for the person you care for
If the person you look after has a hearing impairment they may find that some day-to-day activities are more difficult or they may need extra support. They will probably need support to get out and about and communicate.
Derbyshire County Council Adult Care have produced a series of video versions of their main information leaflets that feature BSL, audio voice over and subtitles. You can watch the videos including Guide to Adult Care, Guide to Carers Services, Guide to Dementia services on the Adult Care YouTube playlist.
You can also use the Adult Care leaflet order form to request leaflets in alternate formats such as large print, BSL and easy read.
If you think the person you care for needs social care support, either because of their hearing loss or because of combined effect of hearing loss and any additional needs, you can contact Call Derbyshire for an assessment.
If the person you care for uses BSL, they can make contact with the Council's Call Derbyshire contact centre from 8am to 6pm using the BSL video interpreting service, SignLive. They will need to download the Sign Live app on their smart phone or tablet. Or it can be accessed from a PC or MAC that runs Windows and has a web cam. Full requirements and links to download the app are available on the Council website.
You can also contact Call Derbyshire on tel: 01629 533190, text: 86555 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the call centre staff feel the person you care for may be eligible for support and needs a face-to-face assessment, a member of the Council’s Deaf Team will arrange to come and see them to carry out the assessment.
999 SMS Text Service
If the person you care for needs to contact the emergency services but would struggle to communicate over the phone, they can now text the police, fire or ambulance services using the 999 SMS text service. The service is also useful for those living in rural areas where the signal isn't strong enough to make a call but could send a text. To use the service you first need to register by texting 'register' to 999. You'll then be sent further instruction on how to use the service. You can also find out more by reading this guidance sheet.
Derbyshire Deaf Team drop-in sessions
The Deaf Team have drop-in information sessions where they offer advice including accessing social care support, assistive technology and any other issue related to hearing impairments. You can find the most up to date information on drop in sessions on the Deaf Team's Facebook page.
- Chesterfield - Tuesdays from 10am to 12pm at Chesterfield Area Office, West Street, Chesterfield, S40 47Y
- Clay Cross - Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm at Clay Cross Office, Market Street, Clay Cross, S45 9JE
- Ilkeston - Mondays from 10am to 12pm at Ilkeston Library, Market Street, DE7 5RN
- Ripley - Friday from 10am to 12pm at Hearing Help, Ripley, 156 Derby Road, DE5 8HU
- Swadlincote - Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm at Swadlincote Library, Civic Way, Swadlincote, DE11 0AD
If you are unable to get to a drop-in sesion or want to find out more, you can contact the Deaf Team on:
- Text: 86555
- Minicom: 01246 861852
- Tel: 01629 533319
- email: email@example.com
Deaf people can choose from a number of communication methods: Sign Language, lipreading, fingerspelling, Deafblind fingerspelling, written, etc.
Their choice will be determined by many factors to do with their experience and the nature and degree of their deafness. The British Deaf Assoiciation have some top tips for communicating with someone who is deaf on their website.
If the person you care for has acquired hearing loss in later life, it may be more difficult for them to learn sign language or lipread. The Deaf Team or the local organisations listed above will be able to help support you to find a method of communicating that suits you both.
They will also advise on assistive technology such as hearing aids.
Support for carers
It is important that you take advantage of the support on offer to you as an unpaid carer. If the person you care for has multiple conditions or disabilities, you may wish to browse the 'caring for someone with...' section to see what other support services are available to carers.
The Carers Directory has information about carer support groups, activities and other services, to support you in your caring role.
You may also wish to get support from other carers using online communities and forums. Specific communities for people with hearing loss and their carers include:
- Deaf plus is an online community for people who are deaf and their carers.