First impressions are made within the first ten seconds, according to Princeton research. For a successful appointment with someone with hearing loss, it is important to create a safe and welcoming environment from the very start. This will help to cultivate trust and allow the client to open up freely about their concerns.
Below, we’ve gathered some tips from clinical audiologist and researcher Dr Samantha Tai on how to start a person-centered appointment:
- Be prepared
Take time to carefully review a client’s medical history. This will provide valuable background information on the client’s hearing and give hints about what questions to ask during the appointment. The preparation can also include simply rearranging chairs in a way that will help everyone – the client, the accompanying family member, the hearing care professional – to see each other well and create welcoming space for a fruitful conversation.
Research shows that it is common practice for hearing care professionals to interrupt their clients 18 to 23 seconds after they start sharing their stories. According to Dr Tai, this approach will lead to premature testing and prevent clients from comprehensively explaining their concerns. That’s why it is crucial to listen without interrupting in the beginning and then ask follow-up questions.
- Set an agenda together
Once the main concerns are addressed, set an agenda together to give the appointment a clear structure and focus. Dr Tai says, inviting clients to take part in the agenda-setting process is a core component of person-centered communication.
- Ask for the client’s perspective
Usually, clients have in-depth knowledge of their hearing problem, its cause, and its impact on their daily activities. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to explore clients’ experiences as well as perspectives on potential causes of their hearing loss.
For more information and tips on how to apply person-centered care in appointment, have a look at Module 7 of the Ida University Course.