The University of Pretoria: Teaching PCC and exchanging knowledge

By Judith Vonberg

This is the first in a series of interviews with members of the Person-Centered Hearing Network (PCHN) – a collaboration between 30 Ida Institute partners around the world committed to delivering, teaching, researching, and advocating for person-centered hearing care.

We kick off with the University of Pretoria, the largest residential university in South Africa and an Ida Institute partner since 2019.

Faheema Mahomed-Asmail and Talita le Roux, senior lecturers in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, explain how they’re working to make sure their students graduate committed to delivering person-centered care (PCC) and why they’re excited about collaborating with others through the PCHN. 

How do you and your organization work towards making hearing care more person-centered?

PCC is highly relevant in the two programs we offer – speech-language pathology and audiology – since both center around communication and the care and treatment of communication disabilities. 

Our philosophy is driven by the belief that professional care and support is most effective and valuable when it occurs in partnership with our patients, who are active participants at every step along the patient journey. 

Over the last three to five years, as global interest in PCC has grown, we have also been focusing more on PCC in terms of service delivery and student training. And as an Ida partner, we have been able to work with other universities in the network who share the goal of infusing PCC into all aspects of education. 

For example, we worked together to develop the PCC Curriculum Guidelines, a resource that identifies PCC objectives for different areas within hearing care and measurable behaviors to track students’ progress. This resource has helped us greatly in our ongoing work to integrate more PCC-related content into various modules. We have also adjusted our practical/clinical marking rubrics to ensure that PCC is assessed in all the different student practicals across the two programs. 

Furthermore, all our final-year students have recently earned the Inspired by Ida qualification, completing online courses in PCC and committing to delivering it. We’ve seen the positive impact of this program on the students’ views and their treatment of patients during their time in the clinic. 

What three words would you use to describe your organization?

Leading. Research-intensive. Innovative.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that excites you.

We’re members of the Ida Institute South Africa Chapter – a group of volunteers in South Africa working to advance person-centered hearing care. Through this group, information is shared and discussions on hearing loss and hearing care relevant to our regional context are promoted. 

We’ve launched a Facebook page that’s gaining traction within our communities and run a survey to determine the hopes and needs of clinicians in South Africa in relation to PCC. We are excited to analyze the data and support more clinicians to provide person-centered hearing care. 

Why did your organization join the Person-Centered Hearing Network?

As a university partner of the PCHN, we support the dissemination and growth of PCC in speech-language pathology and audiology across South Africa and into Africa. 

The network provides us with opportunities to connect, reflect, and exchange knowledge and ideas, and come up with solutions or new ways to learn, teach, and provide PCC. 

It’s exciting to witness a renewed commitment and responsiveness to PCC across training institutions globally and we want to be part of it.

What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for hearing care in the next decade?

Despite the consensus that PCC is foundational to the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology, many challenges and barriers to effective person- and family-centered care still exist. By listening to and learning from our colleagues, we can come up with potential solutions and support each other in the process of integrating PCC in all educational and clinical contexts. 

With the shift towards tele-audiology, the future is bright and exciting, with numerous new possibilities of providing care to those in need. But this shift brings challenges too, not only for audiologists, but for dispensary companies and of course clients as well. These include insufficient knowledge about and training in tele-audiology, OTC/in-situ fittings, and the lack of available resources for clients and healthcare providers to offer telehealth services. 

In one sentence, what is your ideal vision of hearing care in the future?

Access to person-centered hearing healthcare for all. 

Image: Talita le Roux (l) and Faheema Mahomed-Asmail (r)