Everyone has the right to clearly understand treatment plans and communicate their needs.
The current health pandemic is creating new obstacles and challenges that most of us have never experienced before. Those at assisted living centers, hospitals or rehabilitation facilities are feeling isolated and experiencing increased difficulties hearing important information through masks. Help your loved ones and patients bring awareness to their medical professionals and caregivers with a FREE sign that can be posted on any window or door or bedside.
Stay at home orders and mask requirements are creating new levels of stress, frustration and fear for those who are hard of hearing. How can we help them? Read below to understand what people with hearing loss are going through during this time, and use these tips to better serve their needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mask Challenges and Tips:
For those who depend on lipreading, facial expressions and clear pronunciation, the mask has put up a wall that is making communication much more difficult. The mask not only covers most visual cues that those who are hard of hearing rely on, but it also muffles and distorts voices.
- While wearing any mask, some basic tips on communicating to those who are hard of hearing include: facing each other, speaking clearly, speaking slowly with annunciation, and speaking up but not yelling.
- Through Safe ‘N’ Clear and Etsy, you’ll find masks designed with a clear center around the mouth that can help improve the ability to lip read and understand speech through facial cues.
- Identifying other ways to convey information that work for patients and loved ones can help get through this difficult time. Supply a pen and paper to write down any communication. For those with smart phones, a speech-to-text app like Ava, Live Transcribe & Otter can work as a tech savvy solution that converts spoken word to written language by sending you a text when someone speaks so you can read what they have said. Ear Machine is an app that can turn your smart phone into a personal amplifier.
Make sure that all medical professionals and caregivers are aware of any difficulty hearing to make communicating much easier. Michigan Avenue’s Hard of Hearing Sign can be downloaded and printed or sent by mail to post on your patient or loved one’s door or bedside to provide notification of their hearing needs.
Social Distancing Challenges and Tips:
Many parents and grandparents in assisted living centers or hospitals often depend on their loved ones to help advocate for their needs and help make sure they can hear their doctors and nurses. With the current isolation, patients are experiencing increased confusion and fear when they cannot clearly hear what medical staff and caregivers are communicating. Patients have the right to understand treatment plans and communicate their personal and medical needs to caregivers.
- If possible, a consultation online or via phone can help keep family members and medical professionals on the same page with what is being communicated, while providing those hard of hearing with additional support.
- Keep in mind that not hearing clearly is frustrating in itself. Not having family close by during a health pandemic adds to that frustration and confusion. Allow extra time to make sure everything is understood, and be patient and willing to rephrase or simplify as needed.
- With the added anxiety of being quarantined, it is increasingly important to verify what was heard by asking those hard of hearing to repeat it back to you. This can help alleviate any stress or fear that they misheard or missed important information.
Additionally, it is critical to make sure all caregivers, nurses and doctors are aware of the hearing difficulty. Michigan Avenue’s Hard of Hearing Sign below can be posted on any door or at any bedside as a friendly reminder.
FREE Printable Sign for Hearing Loss Awareness
One of the most helpful tools for your loved ones or patients is to help them communicate at the forefront that they have difficulty hearing. Not only should they state their name and date of birth but also add “I have hearing loss”. This will help medical professionals and caregivers to better prepare and understand their needs.
- Michigan Avenue Hearing Health has created a sign to print out for patients and loved ones to post on the doors to their rooms or above their beds in assisted living centers, hospitals or rehabilitation centers. Click the button below to download, or fill out the form below to have this FREE sign sent to your patient or loved one.
- Printing Instructions: Be sure to press “Fit to Page” when printing in order to see the sign in full size.