Hearing Link

A Partner’s View blog: Ann Thallon tells NHS

The latter half of 2018 saw a lot going on in our lives which is why I’ve not been around.

This week I checked Hearing Link’s site and was shocked to see me, with Sue on the news page framing fellow volunteer Ann Thallon – pictured right. (The poster wasn’t our idea – sorry folks!).

Even though I prefer taking pics to being in them; the other day I was looking at images of me in the 1970s that I’d found while clearing out for our move. Rather than yearning for my younger self, I have to be honest and say – what a wimp in leather and a cut off I was. Skinny, great mop of dark hair (with a parting!!) and clean shaven –yuck.

In those days, I didn’t know how to communicate with people who had a hearing loss, I do hope I wasn’t one of those ‘say it loud and often’ types. Along with short, white, hair the intervening years have provided me with experience that allows me to, at least, communicate at a simple level with folks who have hearing loss without using paper and pencil.

Resorting to writing is simple for both parties, but I consider that a failure on my part. I try to make the effort to show that I care. Although I’m sure there have been many who wished I’d just written it down instead of going through laborious signs and finger spelling.

Which is why I was checking the news pages for info about NHS. Sue had a bad couple of weeks with flu and was getting worse. I put my foot down all manly and made my point strongly, no messing about – please, please, please, let me take you to the doctor! From there we went to hospital where it was confirmed she had started Pneumonia. Sue was shot full of stuff and later discharged with a take-away bag of drugs – she’s now improving, gradually.

The care and consideration she received at hospital was excellent, she looked like an extra from The Walking Dead and staff stopped us as we slowly wandered the corridors to ask if she needed help. Sue doesn’t like making a fuss, so we continued until I left her to look for the correct door, I returned to find a concerned Radiologist making sure Sue wasn’t abandoned. The Radiologist told me to stay with Sue while she told the appropriate staff we were on our way – and people say NHS staff don’t care!

Communicating with hard of hearing (hoh) visitors is, however, a different matter. Posters about communicating in different languages are found around most NHS facilities, yet I’ve never seen one informing deaf and hoh visitors how to request signers, lipspeakers, or just for a pen and paper. I could moan on, but Ann Thallon would have made the point better at her recent Hearing Awareness Training session than I could, and we (those who look at these pages) all know that deaf awareness is lacking in so many vital places.

A friendly and concerned student nurse came over to make sure Sue was okay while we waited for results, he wanted to know about signing because he realised there was a need for better communications with patients. At least one more ‘on our side’.

I stayed with Sue, of course, and provided comms between health care providers and her. In the past I have had to leave her at hospital and I was desperately concerned and upset for her being on her own where speaking really, really, loudly seems to be basic deaf communications.

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