Person-Centered Care is What Sets Us Apart from Commodity Options

By Jeanette Blom

<p>Ida Community member Dusty Jessen, AuD, owner of <a class="external-link-new-window" href="" target="_top" title="Opens external link in new window">Columbine Hearing Care</a> in Colorado, and founder of Cut to the Chase Communication, is a fervent advocate for person-centered care. She is also a popular speaker who has introduced thousands of hearing care professionals and audiology students to Ida tools and methods through various presentations and lectures both on- and off-line. We spoke to her about the value of person-centered care and how Ida’s resources inspired her to develop her own counseling approach.</p>

<p><strong>What are the keys to successful rehabilitation?</strong></p>

<p>I believe there are three keys to successful rehabilitation.  The first is ensuring the patient has appropriate expectations about what amplification can and cannot do for them, and making sure that they take on a certain degree of responsibility for the rehabilitation process. The second key is to make sure at least one frequent communication partner is involved in the process.  And the third is to provide education and counseling that is specific to the patient's individual needs and to make sure this information is provided in a written format so that the patient can continue to refer to it from home.</p>

<p><strong>What does person-centered care mean to you and how important is it?</strong></p>

<p>Person-centered care means asking good questions, truly listening to the answers, and shaping our treatment to address that person's specific needs and concerns.  Person-centered care is what sets us, as hearing care providers, apart from the commodity options available to consumers today. </p>

<p><strong>Some argue that person-centered care is too time consuming. What is your opinion?</strong></p>

<p>Person-centered care does not have to be time consuming.  Clinicians simply need to have a consistent and efficient process to gather the needed information and use that information to shape their visits.  The most time-consuming follow-up visits start with the question, "So, how did it go with your hearing aids these past two weeks?"  This opens the floor for a potentially long-winded gripe session.  A more efficient question will be based on the initial communication needs assessment, "Let's talk about how you and your husband communicated at home over the past two weeks.  Did you both practice being in the same room before you started talking to each other?" Eventually the conversation will get around to the hearing aids, but by starting with questions about the patient and communication partner responsibilities, we are showing them that they play a big part in the success of the process.  This person-centered responsibility helps to make the visits more efficient and often reduces the number of follow-up visits.</p>

<p><strong>How do you work to implement person-centered care?</strong></p>

<p>Person-centered care starts with the initial contact. I make sure my patients understand that they aren't just coming to me for hearing aids.  As such, I call that first visit a "Communication Needs Assessment" rather than the traditional "Hearing Aid Evaluation."  My intake questionnaires are geared toward their communication needs rather than just their hearing needs, and I always have the spouses or communication partners complete a questionnaire in order to get their point of view.  I start with a closed-set questionnaire.  My favorite is the PACA, developed by EarTrak.  I then use those responses to determine the top 2-3 situations where the patient has the most difficulty or most wants to improve their communication interactions.  These situations become my focus for the fitting and follow-up visits.  I then use my <a class="external-link-new-window" href="" target="_top" title="Opens external link in new window">5 Keys Communication Program</a> to help the patients create a Successful Communication Plan for those specific situations.  These plans address speaker and listener strategies, environmental modifications, and technological options (such as which hearing aid program is best, or which wireless accessory might be appropriate).  Finally, I give my patients a simple "homework" assignment to help them practice using the strategies on a regular basis. This might be as simple as instructing them to go to their favorite restaurant twice a week at different times of the day and to try different tables each time they go. The purpose of the homework assignment is to actively engage them in the care process so that they aren't putting all of their focus on what the hearing aids are or are not doing for them.</p>

<p><strong>In what way have Ida’s resources been a help to you?</strong></p>

<p>Ida's person-centered care approach and tools were a huge motivation as I developed my 5 Keys Communication program, and I share them with my audiences at every conference.  The Toolbox is filled with wonderful resources and activities for every age group.  The website is so user-friendly and the videos are all very helpful.  Because I work with adult patients, I especially appreciate the Living Well With Hearing Loss tool.  I love that it leads to a written plan of action that the patient and communication partner can refer back to.  It is amazing to me that Ida makes these incredible tools available to clinicians online at no charge.  I will continue to use and recommend the Ida resources for the rest of my career as an audiologist!</p>