“National Protect Your Hearing” Month: An Opportunity to Fine-tune Customer Service
by Monique Hammond – hearing impaired author ¤t president of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA TC)
October is national protect your hearing month. During this month, a special focus is put on the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. As the general public is reminded to preserve hearing health, how are those with treated hearing loss figured into the discussion? The issue is that the possibility of further hearing damage from excess noise exposures is often not raised by professionals. With so many topics to cover during aural rehabilitation sessions ear protection options tend to fall through the cracks. Closing this gap is both a wise and necessary move in the interest of improved customer service.
Hearing protection is for everyone.
In my meetings and community presentations, I have found that people with hearing aids often show little awareness of how excess sound levels can still be dangerous. What I have learned from hearing aid users is that that the general issue of noise often figures in initial evaluations with their specialists, but once a loss is determined, protection of residual hearing is not an essential part of their hearing-loss-education.
“Aren’t hearing aid settings and features all-protective?”
A gentleman recently shared with me that he rides his motorbike certain that his devices take care of the ruckus. He then wondered about a possible connection between his rides and the aids’ need for repair. Of course, in such cases the prevailing recommendation is to see the hearing professional without delay for a reality check.
Help them do better and you will do better.
Yes, there is a lot to talk about hearing loss prevention during the month of October. The cue to push for protecting and preserving hearing is also a reminder to make a formal discussion on these topics a necessary part of patient education âÂÂ every day of every month. Use social media, emails and print newsletters to reinforce your message.
Once more the wise words of poet Maya Angelou apply: “When you know better, you do better.” Helping patients do better, with a well-rounded hearing-loss-education curriculum, goes a long way to establish the trust relationship that is at the core of the all-important long-term patient/specialist relationship. You care, and that makes your practice stand out from others’.
Risk assessment: What do patients know?
October is indeed a good time for having a dialogue with your patients on the dangers of excessive sound levels and on how to protect still intact or leftover hearing (yes, even while wearing hearing aids). The door is open this month for probing patients’ knowledge and misconceptions regarding excess sound. Encourage clients to come in for check-up and discuss how to prevent further damage.
Some topics to address might include:
- Do they feel that hearing aids alone protect them?
- What are the current noise levels in their lives: at work, at home or during leisure activities?
- Do they ever protect their ears and how?
- Do they know the sound volume danger limits?
- How do they estimate noise levels? Chart? Got a phone app?
The answers obtained during these conversations become the basis for personal risk assessments, which lead to a refresher on ear-noxious noise levels, the truth about their hearing aids, ear protection options and general tactics for dealing with dB assaults.
The topic of hearing protection also offers a chance to inquire about family attitudes toward noise. As patients learn, enroll their help to teach others about the importance and ways of preserving their hearing, especially children and grandchildren. Give your patients the tools to pass forward what is learned. Teach them to keep loved ones from ending up with a type of hearing loss that is totally preventable.
In the end, small changes can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and as American businessman and author Michael LeBoeuf tells us: “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”