Easing Appointment Contact For People With Hearing Loss

There is a lot mental health professionals can do to help ease the appointment process people with deafness and hearing loss.

Action on Hearing Loss has discovered a significant percentage of these kinds of patients face significant problems when trying to use mental health services.

There are 534,000 people in Wales with some form of hearing loss and they are at an increased risk of mental health problems including anxiety, depression and poor self-esteem so it's an issue which GPs and primacy care practitioners really need to understand.

A simple thing services can offer is a range of contact methods for patients to make an appointment - including the use of email, text messaging and textphones.

If you put these contact options in place then they must be advertised to patients and most are fairly easy to put in place.

Text - or SMS - messaging can be offered by simply offering a textphone number to patients with hearing loss and making sure the mobile phone which takes the messages is monitored throughout the day.

The same internal procedures should be used to monitor similar email services, particularly to ensure that this channel can be used to secure same day appointments for deaf people.

In the longer term, healthcare services should explore the use of an online appointment booking system and telephone systems should be designed with Text Relay users in mind, as automated responses take time to relay which can disadvantage patients calling between fixed times to secure same-day appointments.

These are just some of the way mental health services can be made more accessible to people with hearing loss and you can find out more by reading our latest Information Sheet 14.

Alternatively, we'll be going into more details about how you can improve your communications within your surgeries and clinics with a fnial post on this subject on Friday.

If you have any questions about Information Sheet 14 or any other queries please contact our Project Manager Lesley Hills via email at lhills@rcgp.org.uk or on 029 2050 4516.