Australian Government Department of Health
Hearing loss affects up to 90% of people living in residential aged care. Untreated hearing loss is associated with poor physical health, mental health, and quality of life. Unfortunately, despite its prevalence amongst aged care residents, hearing loss frequently goes undetected – and therefore unmanaged – in this population.
In February 2019 the Hearing Health Sector Committee recommended that ‘the quality of hearing health and care in aged care facilities is lifted … with a particular focus on identification, management and workforce training’. In the 2020-21 Budget, the Australian Government committed to a multi-phase initiative to scope, develop, and test measures for residential aged care staff to better identify and support aged care residents with hearing loss.
AHA was engaged to conduct the first phase of this initiative. We explored current processes for identifying and supporting residents with hearing loss, the availability and impact of relevant workforce training, and how challenges to implementing hearing care processes and training can be overcome. This exploration was conducted through a scan of relevant literature and existing training programs and resources, interviews with key stakeholders in the hearing and aged care sectors, and a survey of residential aged care staff and managers.
We synthesised the information collected across these sources into a best practice model for identifying and supporting aged care residents with hearing loss, and provided recommendations for government and aged care providers on how workforce training can be effectively delivered and translated to support implementation of the best practice model.
Our best practice model acknowledges the prevalence and impact of hearing loss in residential aged care and the many competing demands and priorities facing provider staff. It is accompanied by indicators of success and recommendations to support its effective implementation.