For retired teacher aide and librarian Kath Brown, getting a hearing test was life-changing, allowing her to get on top of her hearing loss and stay socially connected. However, the 82-year-old was initially apprehensive about the process and put it off for as long as possible.
“My hearing had almost become an embarrassment, but I was reluctant to take the next step until I realised how foolish it was to rely on the television subtitles or just sit quietly at group meetings unless I was the one leading the conversation,” Kath said.
“The audiologist’s calm, professional and reassuring nature immediately put me at ease. Following the test, her explanations regarding my hearing loss and different hearing technologies available were delivered in such a way that I did not at any time feel foolish or intimidated.”
Now more older Queenslanders with hearing loss just like Kath are being empowered to maintain social connections, following a $110,000 Significant Grant and a $110,000 interest-free loan having been awarded to not-for-profit Hear and Say, earlier this year.
The capacity-building funding from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland has enabled Hear and Say to accelerate the growth of their new Adult Hearing program. This provides adults with access to technologies such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and skills to manage the everyday impacts of hearing loss.
The funding also supports the social enterprise structure of the Adult Hearing program, which sees any surplus funding directed to support Hear and Say’s work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing to hear, listen and speak.
Hear and Say CEO Chris McCarthy said one of the benefits of the funding is to assist with educating adults on hearing rehabilitation strategies.
“Hearing loss can occur at any age, at any time, and can slowly affect the way you interact with the world,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Living well with hearing loss does not depend exclusively on the use of hearing technologies, and we work to give more adults the skills needed to overcome hearing barriers in their everyday life.
“The program’s social enterprise model will also fill funding gaps for Hear and Say’s not-for-profit programs, which support children who are born deaf and in need.”
Hand Heart Pocket Acting CEO Robert Qualtrough said initiatives that improve outcomes for Queensland’s ageing population was part of the Freemason charity’s broader strategy.
“We are proud to partner with Hear and Say on this important program that is empowering more older Queenslanders to lead independent lives,” Mr Qualtrough said.
“Australia’s ageing population is on the rise and whilst today one in six people experience hearing loss, by 2050 this is expected to rise to one in four people, so there’s an urgent need to address this issue particularly for this older cohort.
“It seems particularly relevant to celebrate this partnership during Mental Health Week.”
Hear and Say’s Adult Hearing program is currently provided across its centres in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba, and through a dedicated clinic based at AVEO Springfield.
For more information about Hear and Say please visit www.hearandsay.com.au
Photo: Hear and Say Chief Executive Officer Chris McCarthy, Freemasons representative Gary Golding, Hear and Say Executive Director and Founder Dr Dimity Dornan AO, Hand Heart Pocket Acting Chief Executive Officer Robert Qualtrough, Hand Heart Pocket Board member Greg Short and Hear and Say client Kath Brown (insert).