I ask you as BSHAA members to stand ready to support all in society in any way possible.
I will start by saying clearly – stay at least 2m away from other people and wash your hands regularly.
COVID-19 and the measurements to slow its progress will be with us for some time. If you haven’t already, read and understand every bit of government advice and stick to it.
Many you will have watched the news and understand the seriousness of the impact that COVID-19 can have on the public.
For many people using hearing instruments, social distancing equals social isolation. But for many, NOT social distancing risks getting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill.
During periods of social distancing and isolation, having working hearing aids is essential to keep users communicating with family and friends and keeping up to date via the TV and radio.
As social restrictions continue, and NHS Audiology departments are redeployed, we may see an increase in hearing aid users needing support in the community with basic hearing aid servicing, basic repairs and battery supplies.
No-one will have access to regular care for quite some time.
I’ve been heartened by the number of members contacting me to ask what they can do to help. It’s great to hear that so many are willing to do their part in however small a way to help get through the next months.
The number one thing you can do is to adhere to guidance on strict social distancing. In your personal and work life.
You can continue to offer a service by:
- Making contact with all your patients, by phone or video call, just to check in with them and understanding if they need anything posted to them
- Making contact with your local NHS Audiology department to support with battery distribution
- Offer a drop-off cleaning and repair service for any hearing aid user whilst keeping to strict social distance measures and strict infection control measures
- Create hearing aid survival packs that can be posted to any customers that need batteries, filters and cleaning product
- Offer telephone/online consultations and remote care where possible.
Operating in this manner will require innovation in delivery and flexibility in approach but I’m sure you are all up to it.
I am asking you to continue to adhere to social distance measures until official public guidance advises otherwise. It is recommended that members should not carry out any activities that break these social distancing measures.
As you will no doubt have picked up, this is an ever-changing situation and guidance changes not simply from day to day but almost hour by hour as we learn more about the virus and how the government is tackling it. BSHAA will continue to update you as we know more.
It is likely this virus is going to affect us for the long term. How all of society copes with this is unclear. BSHAA stands ready to support whatever action is required longer term and is already in conversations about how members from BSHAA and the wider independent sector can play its part in supporting some of the most vulnerable.
I have noticed quite a lot of activity over the weekend on Audiology-based social media, much of which has resulted in criticism of different people’s actions over the weekend. Some businesses have opted to continue as normal, others have chosen to reduce their service, and some have decided to close. Actions taken by members, I’m sure, are always taken with a desire to help their patients. For the time being, implementing strict social distancing is the best for your patients.
I would ask all those involved in the Audiology community to pull together, understand how we can each play our part in slowing the progress of this virus and how we can support our customer base at this difficult time.
I will finish this as I started and say it clearly. Stay apart, wash your hands and stay safe.
Andrew CoulterBSHAA President