A Patient Journey maps the typical stages a person passes through on their path to hearing rehabilitation. It helps students and clinicians visualize the hearing loss journey which begins before people even recognize they have a hearing loss and continues until they learn to manage their hearing loss. The tool allows professionals to better understand and reflect upon their clients’ individual journeys. This enables them to understand their clients’ needs and partner with them for better results.
Stages of the journey
Pre-contemplation: “I don’t think I have a problem with my hearing”
In this stage, the client doesn’t realize they have a hearing problem or doesn’t think it’s serious enough to seek help. They are surprised when the problem is brought up by those around them. They don’t recognize any of the symptoms you describe.
Contemplation: “I might have a hearing loss”
The client is ambivalent about making a change. They feel comfortable with their present situation, but also fear the consequences of not acting on their hearing loss.
Preparation: “I think I need help with my hearing”
The client continues to express ambivalence or has reached a tipping point where they are ready to act on their hearing loss but isn’t sure how to proceed. They seek information to support their decision from a hearing care professional and others, but also considers dealing with it alone.
Action: “I am going to do something about my hearing loss”
The client has decided to act on their hearing loss. They may want to talk about their hearing difficulties with other people and seek acknowledgement and appreciation. They may worry about not being able to follow through.
Maintenance: “I am using my hearing devices”
Your client has begun using hearing devices and/or effective communication strategies. At this stage, they may still feel ambivalent. Some are pleased to be using them but find it hard to accept the implications of hearing loss. Others see the devices as a necessary evil. Some feel sad and tend to forget the reasons for acting on their hearing loss. Those that feel successful will advance to Permanent Exit. Others will struggle and fall back to Relapse.
Relapse: “I don’t like using my hearing aids”
Your client struggles to wear the hearing aids consistently or gives up all together. They may feel like a failure for not being able to persevere and may be more irritable than usual. Some clients may enjoy the freedom of not having to concern themselves with hearing aids. Some will be motivated to try again.
Permanent Exit: “My hearing aids are here to stay”
Your client feels comfortable with hearing aids and communication strategies and can manage their hearing loss.
It is very important to remember that people may go through the same stages several times on their rehabilitation journey.