Steps on the road to universal, person-centered hearing care

By Lise Lotte Bundesen

Imagine a world where hearing care is accessible to all; where individuals and communities are empowered to take care of their hearing and address hearing loss when it occurs; where the care available goes beyond technical devices to education and communication support for people with hearing loss and their families; and where care is person-centered, embracing an understanding of the individual’s situation, needs, and preferences. 

That’s the vision presented in the first ever World Report on Hearing, presented two months ago by the World Health Organization. And like many, we at Ida want to see that vision become reality. So how can we get there? 

Spreading the word

Step one is raising awareness – and that’s going well. In recent years, we’ve seen several high-profile reports and documents on person-centered approaches to healthcare – and mapping the steps to get us there.

Last year, the International Organization for Standardization prescribed that person-centered principles and strategies must be implemented in hearing aid fitting management, while Europe adopted its first ever standard outlining the minimum requirements for PCC.

Meanwhile, the OECD is focusing more on “putting people at the center of healthcare” and we’re seeing healthcare systems around the world integrating person-centered approaches into their mission statements and guidelines. Most recently, of course, the WHO has got on board.

These top-level interventions have undoubtedly expanded awareness of human-centered healthcare – and those who hear about it, want it. When asked what they value most in their care, the people with hearing loss we surveyed in our recent Future Hearing Journeys project ranked in-person care and individualized counseling in the top three.

We all have a role

The roadmaps are there, as is the demand, and we all need to respond.

At the clinic level, it’s down to managers, hearing care professionals, and support staff to integrate empathy, shared decision-making, and active listening into every interaction with clients. It’s vital too that university lecturers integrate PCC into their curriculum, ensuring that the hearing care professionals of the future see this approach as a fundamental part of audiological practice, not a fluffy add-on.

It's easy to see the hearing care industry as an obstacle on the road to universal, person-centered hearing care – but our Future Hearing Journeys research shows that many in the industry see PCC as a huge opportunity and a role for themselves in delivering it. We welcome that and hope to see the industry supporting professionals in delivering person-centered services and leading the way in developing human-centered, holistic solutions.

People with hearing loss have huge power too. By choosing a clinic that’s Inspired by Ida (educated in and committed to delivering PCC) or by going to the appointment ready to talk about their specific hearing needs – using Ida’s telehealth resources to prepare – clients can demonstrate their preference for PCC and encourage more professionals to adopt it. 

And from May 3, all of us can throw our support behind the WHO vision by sharing a call for governments around the world to implement people-centered hearing care for all – follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out.   

Use our resources

The task may seem daunting, but the tools are available to see it through. For hearing care professionals, the Ida Institute’s eLearning courses and tools develop skills and knowledge, and provide practical ways to implement PCC both in the appointment and throughout the client’s hearing journey.

We’ve got tools for people with hearing loss too, while our University Course provides educators with ready-made lecture series and student resources, designed by experts. All our resources are free and available to anyone who needs them.

The future of hearing care is person-centered – but only if we all choose to act. Share the WHO call, use our resources, and get in touch with us at Ida, where you’ll find a global community of people dedicated to making that vision of universal, person-centered hearing care a reality.