Hearing and balance-related problems are often chronic conditions which can be managed but not always cured. Now new guidance by the British Society of Audiology – devised in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research – promises to improve quality of life for patients with hearing and balance problems and tinnitus.
Effective rehabilitation is best achieved through a process that goes beyond addressing the sensory impairment by providing support both to the person experiencing the hearing or balance-related problem and their partner or immediate family.
New Practice Guidance on Common Principles of Rehabilitation in Routine Audiology Services will be launched in Nottingham on Wednesday 5 September by Professor Deborah Hall with collaborator Dr Daniel Rowan, during the Annual Conference of the British Society of Audiology (BSA).
Consultation and expert collaboration
Over the past decade there have been important developments in understanding how people with chronic conditions can be helped to maximise their quality of life. This includes unifying some general principles across a wide range of conditions including hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness.
There is widespread acceptance that rehabilitation will fail to deliver its full potential if it focuses exclusively on addressing sensory impairment, without considering clients' specific social and emotional needs.
The guidance was developed by the Professional Practice Committee of the British Society of Audiology (BSA) in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, the Ida Institute, the BSA Adult Rehabilitation Interest Group, the BSA Balance Interest Group, and the wider audiology community.
Professor Deborah Hall, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, said: "This guidance brings together the latest scientific evidence concerning what rehabilitative strategies best improve people's quality of life."
Utilising "considerable improvements in technology"
Dr Daniel Rowan, Chair of the BSA's Professional Practice Committee, said: "This guidance was inspired by growing efforts within audiology to utilise fully the considerable improvements in technology at times of great challenge.
"The BSA aims to support these efforts by recognising the end goals of audiology and by promoting the core principles that we currently understand are necessary to achieve them. The intention is for audiology professionals to consider these principles as being at the heart of their practice, helping to guide their interactions with clients with a wide variety of needs and in a wide variety of contexts."
This general approach is in keeping with current trends seen across other clinical disciplines in the rehabilitation of chronic illnesses. Although this new guidance is intended primarily to inform the practice of audiology professionals directly involved in the rehabilitation process, it is also intended to be a reference for commissioners, policy makers and other stakeholders as to what comprises best practice in rehabilitation
This new Practice Guidance will be presented during the BSA's Annual Conference, which is being held this year at Nottingham Trent University.