From global to local: Better hearing care through cultural understanding

By Clint McLean

Since our founding in 2007, a flood of like-minded people and organizations have joined us on a journey to spread person-centered hearing care around the world. Our dedicated community is now 20,000 strong and growing.

Earlier this year, a group of hearing care professionals committed to person-centered care (PCC) launched a South Africa chapter of the Ida Institute. The chapter will help us to serve and inspire what has been a welcoming population for our resources. According to Vera Hlayisi, a chapter member and an audiologist and researcher, the goal of the chapter is “to move the PCC needle from conversation and awareness to tangible action.”

Hlayisi explained, “The socio-political and economic context in South Africa is such that most people don’t have access to education and health. And that adversely impacts hearing healthcare as a whole. It is a challenging landscape to navigate, but our hope, as a chapter, is that by empowering hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss, there may be a positive ripple effect.”

The South Africa chapter provides Ida with a regional touchpoint, allowing us to understand local contexts and maximize the cultural and social relevance of the resources we offer.

The value of local knowledge

For example, Karin Joubert, Associate Professor in Audiology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said, “In South Africa, we use the term ‘Ubuntu,’ which can be loosely translated as ‘I am because we are’ or ‘humanity towards others.’ Ubuntu is an indigenous way of being that is unique to Africa and emphasizes relationships with others. If applied in healthcare, services prioritize the person and guide our ability to understand and identify the needs of our patients through dialogue.”

Ubuntu is a great way to consider and discuss person-centered care in South Africa that only a local would be aware of. And that illustrates precisely why local chapters will be so helpful to us as we grow. While most of our resources, including our counseling tools and eLearning courses, are created at the Ida Institute offices in Denmark, chapters can fine-tune those resources to make them a better fit for their local community.

Trust, translation, and student perspectives

The new chapter is off to an amazing start. They’ve already collaborated with the South African Association of Audiologists during a workshop about trust in South Africa’s hearing care industry. And, informed by a survey of audiologists, chapter members are developing videos and translating Ida tools into local languages — important work when there are 11 official ones. A few chapter members are also conducting research about perspectives on person-centered care among South African Audiology students.

If you’d like to see what the South Africa chapter of the Ida Institute is up to, follow them on Facebook.