Hearing loss can make everyday activities which many of us take for granted, like making an arrangement over the telephone, difficult. It can lead to feelings of frustration and isolation.
Signal’s befriending scheme matches people coming to terms with hearing loss with trained volunteers. It offers people the chance to rebuild their confidence across the rural county of Shropshire.
Our accredited scheme has been commended for thoroughly assessing the needs of the people seeking support and for providing a range of additional training for our volunteers.
People supported have reported an improvement in their quality of life and volunteers have reported new-found skills through their involvement with our scheme.
Alice is a retired hospital worker in her nineties, living on the edge of the county town. Signal’s volunteer John visited Alice over several months to help her to resolve problems which she had identified, following a deterioration in her hearing.
John helped Alice to sort out an appointment with the NHS audiologist, and a visit by the support worker, to review her hearing aids and help her to make the best use of them.
He also helped her to organise a re-assessment of her assistive equipment by social services, so that she could be issued with an updated hearing loop system to hear the television better.
This meant that Alice could enjoy following international sporting competitions again on TV.
Julie lives with hearing loss and tinnitus in north Shropshire. Her tinnitus can manifest itself as vibrating or pounding sounds in her ear.
Signal’s volunteer Gillian, who has personal experience of hearing loss, visited Julie for some months. Gillian commented, “I’m never too busy to listen, understand and support.”
Together, Gillian and Julie talked over exercises and activities to promote relaxation and reduce stress. In conjunction with the NHS hearing therapist, they also explored the equipment that Julie was using, such as a white noise generator.
At the end of the visits, Julie said, “I’m now reassured that I’m doing all the right things to help my tinnitus and hearing loss and I’ve got all the right equipment.”
Headline photograph: volunteer Gillian and Julie.