On this Saint Valentine’s Day, Sarah Thomas, our Volunteer & Peer Support Coordinator, wants to share with you why she loves supporting people with hearing loss and tinnitus, and the person she loves who inspires her work.
Sarah’s interest in hearing loss began when her father, Ray, recognised his own hearing deteriorating after his wife, Carole, had an accident in their family home.
“One morning, I was in the kitchen and my wife fell just a few feet behind me. This often happens as she’s disabled, but this time I didn’t hear her,” Ray explains. “When I turned around and saw Carole on the floor, Sarah drew my attention to the fact I hadn’t heard her fall. I knew something had to be done.”
Ray took the first step in his hearing loss journey and visited his GP, where he received a referral to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital’s Audiology department. Sarah supported Ray during his appointments and found the whole experience fascinating, which led to her asking if the audiology service provided student work placements. After a positive experience in the department, Sarah based the rest of her Health Studies degree on hearing loss and the issues surrounding the condition.
Ray was subsequently fitted with hearing aids, which had a positive impact on the whole family. Carole was particularly pleased.
“We thought Ray had been struggling with his hearing for many years, but he felt like he was managing. Now we realise how difficult simple things had become like watching television or having a chat as a family. The hearing aids have given me my husband back. We can finally have conversations like we used to again.”
When asked how he felt about his hearing aids, Ray was clearly pleased, and said “I hadn’t realised the impact my hearing loss was having on our safety as a family. I couldn’t even hear our smoke detector, which has since been changed to a vibrating alarm. I just wish I’d gone sooner.”
Experiences like Ray’s are why Signal are rolling out a countywide hearing screening programme, to enable people to have a short, non-invasive test in a town near them that can assess whether they may be likely to have a hearing loss.
“Our hearing screening programme will enable more people to take control of their hearing health and go to the GP before they become isolated by the effects of untreated hearing loss” explains Sarah.
Part of Sarah’s role at Signal is also supporting, developing and facilitating local hearing loss and tinnitus support groups. Sarah says “It is great to see people helping each other to overcome the variety of issues they face and re-engage with the world after an often difficult diagnosis.”
If you would like to know more about Signal’s hearing screening programme, or our hearing loss and tinnitus support groups, please contact Sarah by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01743 358 356.