Begin by taking the “waiting” out of the waiting room, and instead use the space as a starting point for engagement. This is an opportunity for the person with hearing loss and their family to become informed about their hearing and the options available to them, and reflect on the issues more relevant to them. Peter Sydserff of Hidden Hearing shared examples from their offices, where clients can watch a short video on large screens with headphones about hearing loss while they wait to see a clinician. This turns their time before the appointment into an educational and preparation period.
Taking inspiration from the extreme is a good way to find a happy medium you can use now. Even the fantastical can be put into place. To take an example from outside of audiology, GE Medical reframed a child’s hospital visit as an adventure to help ease anxiety. The adventure begins before the child’s appointment, so that the moment when they lie down for a scan is part of the story instead of a scary period when they have to be very still.
It isn’t necessary to go to extremes to find spaces where you could set up for an afternoon to conduct hearing screenings. Going to schools to speak to children – especially teenagers who have their headphones on all the time – setting up in the quiet of a public library, or visiting community or senior centers is a great way to boost the profile of your practice and reach those who might be otherwise hesitant to see visit an audiologist.