creating a new social norm for hearing care
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With a unified system of hearing care provision in place and a redefined relevance, it gives all involved in hearing care the freedom to work together for the same purpose without undermining one another or themselves.

It is clear that the current system of UK hearing care provision is in need of modernisation if we are to create an environment where attitudes can be brought into the 21st Century. The current dichotomy which forces service-users to make a choice of provider based on whether or not it is free is misplaced.

NHS provision is currently mainly through the hospitals. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a hospital is:

“An institute providing medical or surgical treatment and nursing care for ill or injured people.”

 

It is no surprise, then, that most people associate hospitals with being sick or 'having something seriously wrong with you'.

In order to achieve a unified message, all providers offering the same core services need to be operating on a level playing field. In other words, NHS provision shouldn't be attached to the provider, but rather attached to the service offered or the individual using the service.

This is illustrated in the diagram below:

The impact on attitudes of the current dichotomy of NHS provision and non-NHS provision is to introduce unnecessary confusion and uncertainty amongst potential service-users. They are forced to choose between two separate routes, yet the criteria for making that choice is a constantly moving target.

This detracts from having a unified message so necessary in the modernisation of attitudes towards hearing care.

So what should be done to reduce this confusion?

The availability and form of hearing care plays a significant role in determining attitudes, and it is here that much work still needs to be done. Hearing Care in the UK currently falls into two camps:

  • NHS Provision – normally through the Audiology Department of a local hospital.
  • Independent Provision – through a variety of providers including retail chains, independently-owned practices, and individual practitioners.

Although both camps of providers have their strengths and weaknesses, that discussion is beyond the scope of this study. Instead we need to focus on the impact of the current system on general attitudes towards hearing care.

Hearing technology has come a long way within a short period of time. But it is only now, in the 21st Century, that this technology has finally come into adulthood, with a higher level of effectiveness and a greater range of people the technology is suitable for.

So with all the pieces now in place, we begin to take the steps necessary to lay the foundations of modern hearing care. Only by doing so can we hope to bring attitudes out of the past and into the present.

Next: Hearing Care: The Present

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