Funding, lost equipment, batteries and other technology
What funding is available?
Implantable hearing devices (such as bone conduction hearing implants and middle ear implants) are funded centrally by NHS England (and equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). They are only funded when alternative hearing aids or other implantable devices are medically unsuitable.
The funding is paid to your specialist service; you will not have to apply for funding. However, this is provided that your child meets the identified candidature criteria as set out by NHS England. If a child does not exactly meet the criteria, but it is still felt that an implantable device is the most appropriate clinical option for them, then an individual funding request may need to be made.
What happens if equipment is lost or damaged?
Like other types of hearing aid, BCHIs are expensive and sensitive pieces of electronic equipment. You and your child must take reasonable care of the sound processor.
Each Hearing Implant Service will have its own policy for replacement or damaged processors. However, if the sound processor becomes faulty, broken or lost, you can expect your Hearing Implant Service to replace or repair it. You should be issued with a similar aid on loan or a replacement part within 24 hours of the team being told about a problem. It is vital that you return loaned equipment to the service as soon as possible after your child gets their own equipment back.
Young children will be given a ‘safety line’ that attaches the sound processor to their clothing and helps to prevent it being lost or damaged when it is removed or knocked off. Older children may also use a safety line while playing sport, for example.
How long do batteries last and where do we get them from?
BHCI use zinc air batteries. The batteries are supplied with small sticky tabs on one side, this will need to be removed before putting the battery into the sound processor. These batteries often run out suddenly rather than losing power gradually. Parents often get to know how long a battery will last and then change the battery regularly rather than wait for it to run out. You can ask your audiologist to advice you how long you can expect the battery on your child’s device to last.
Batteries are issued free of charge with NHS hearing aids. Replacements should be available from your child’s audiology service or other local GP and health clinics. You may be asked to take your child’s hearing aid record book when collecting batteries. This book will hold information on what hearing device your child has been fitted with and the type of battery issued.
You should always dispose of batteries responsibly. Battery recycling points can be found in supermarkets and some local shops.
The battery door of the BCHI sound processor is tamperproof to prevent young children from removing the battery.
Ask your audiologist if you have any concerns.
What other technology is available to use with an implant?
The Hearing Implant service and your local education service should give your child the opportunity to try other equipment that will help your child hear better in challenging listening environments, such as using a radio aid in school. There are lots of different technologies that can help in a variety of settings and your BCHD will connect to a range of wireless devices.
Your Hearing Implant service will be able to recommend any other equipment that may help your child.
You can find more information about other technologies that can be used with a BCHD here.
We also run a product loan service called the Technology Test Drive, a 'try before you buy' service that gives deaf children and young people the opportunity to test different products in their home or school environment.