Communication Partners

A Sense of Irritation

Gill and John (UK 2009)

Stage: Maintenance

Recommended Tools: Motivation Tools, Communication Partners, Living Well, GROUP

Description: By being a supportive partner, John often acts as Gill’s earpiece at social gatherings. This puts an added burden on John. He often finds himself having to pay attention to many conversations that he would have probably disregarded otherwise. Gill, on the other hand, often finds herself acting complacent at social gatherings. Instead of making a concerted effort to understand and contribute, which is quite tiring, she tends to rely heavily on John. 

By letting Gill and John freely talk about their hearing loss, the video uncovers some of the underlying issues they face on a daily basis. We learn of irritation at home, even when they are doing their best to employ communication strategies. We also learn of frustration, as Gill is unable to socialize with friends and family as she used to do. These “real issues” may have gone unnoticed if Gill was provided a traditional questionnaire to gauge the impact of her hearing loss. It is important to provide an individual with the time and space to freely express themselves and elaborate on how they are living with hearing loss. 

There's Been Times Where I Thought, I Just Wish I Never Made That Appointment

Anthony and Elisabeth (UK 2009)

Stage: Preparation, Action, Maintenance

Recommended Tools: Motivation Tools, Communication Partner Tools, Living Well

Description: Anthony was reluctant to recognize and take action on his hearing loss. His wife Elisabeth propelled Anthony to see an audiologist and have his hearing checked. Others may have similar journeys. Their communication partner(s) may be the driving motivating source, while the client lacks the motivation to take steps to address their hearing loss. It may be useful to keep this in mind, and use the Ida Motivation Tools with clients to explore their source of motivation. Using these tools can help people with hearing loss grow self-aware of their desire to improve their life and thereby become self-motivated to take action. Without adequate self-motivation, they may relapse and stop using their hearing aids soon after taking action.

By participating in this film, Anthony and Elisabeth became much more aware of the significance of their hearing loss and how it had been affecting their relationship. Without this opportunity to speak their mind, they may not have reflected as deeply on their situation. During consultations, it is important to pose open-ended questions to clients. Such questions allow individuals the opportunity to ruminate on what hearing and hearing loss actually means to them. This will in turn help you better understand potential roadblocks and issues facing people on their journey.

Hearing Has Become a Minor Thing in Our Lives

Geoffrey and Howard (UK 2009)

Stage: Maintenance

Recommended Tools: Motivation Tools, Communication Rings, Living Well

Description: The story of Geoffrey and Howard reiterates the importance of constructive communication partnerships where effective communication strategies are employed. It is important to incorporate communication partners into the rehabilitation process and develop shared strategies, so that everyone in the communication network can effectively manage the hearing loss.

The film also shows how clinical tools like the Ida Communication Rings can help you work with clients to identify the people they communicate with on a daily basis. Geoffrey takes significant steps to employ communication strategies. However, Geoffrey still encounters great difficulty understanding the nurses at the hospital. It is important to recognize that a client's communication partners may be outside the inner family circle. In this case, one could consider the nurses as a communication partner for Geoffrey. Constant communication challenges with the nurses impact Geoffrey’s ability to be self-reliant. Tools like the Communication Rings can help you identify such communication situations and develop specific strategies to improve communication. 

I Brought it to the Kitchen Table

Kathleen and Her Family (USA 2009)

Stage: Maintenance

Recommended Tools: Motivation Tools and Communication Partner Tools

Description: It appears Kathleen’s parents had a difficult time understanding and coming to grips with Kathleen's hearing loss. Kathleen experienced bouts of depression and loneliness during her youth, but Kathleen’s parents remained frozen. The family did not openly discuss Kathleen’s situation or take concrete action to reach out to Kathleen and assess how she was dealing with her hearing loss.

This story highlights the enormous value of encouraging families to openly discuss hearing loss and creating a space for that discussion to occur. The consequences of hearing loss can be described in terms of decibels and frequencies, but also in terms of social and emotional aftershocks. While it is not possible to address all issues related to hearing loss, it is important that one remembers to treat the whole person, the whole family, and not just the hearing loss itself.

A Lot of People Make it a Problem

Tony and Jackie (UK 2009)

Stage: Maintenance

Recommended Tools: Motivation Tools and Communication Partner Tools

Description: Tony reiterates that he has never considered his hearing loss a problem. Many people with hearing loss have similar outlooks. They learn to live with their hearing loss and do not consider it a significant problem in their life. This view must be respected and understood. 

The film illustrates that communication partners, like spouses and family members, may have different perspectives on the hearing loss. We hear from Tony’s wife that there are communication challenges in the household. According to Jackie, Tony often fails to acknowledge instances where others initiate conversation. Further, he has a tendency to withdraw from social interaction when he is tired. This shows why it is often valuable to include a communication partner’s perspective into the rehabilitation process. If managed correctly, the input of a spouse or close family member can help support the development and implementation of a shared strategy to improve the general well-being of the entire family, not just the person with hearing loss.