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What is the referral process for a bone conduction hearing implant?

Photo: The BCHI team will work closely with you and your child

How do I find out whether a bone conduction hearing implant (BCHI) is suitable for my child?

Your local audiology service should have provided a comprehensive assessment of your child’s hearing, including bone conduction testing. They will also try out other types of hearing aid over a period of time. If you think your child might be suitable for a BCHI ask your audiologist to refer them to a specialist team for assessment.

BCHI manufacturers will have information on their websites to help you decide if their product will be suitable for your child.

BCHIs are funded by NHS England and have similar central funding in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

What happens when we’re referred?

The specialist in charge of your child’s audiological care will refer you to the auditory implant service. You should receive a written reply from them. They will also send a copy to your child’s GP and to the person who made the referral.

If the auditory implant service professionals don’t think the service is right for your child, they’ll send your child’s specialist doctor a letter within two weeks. Your child’s specialist doctor will then let you know the reasons for this decision within five days.

What is the auditory implant service?

When we talk about ‘the auditory implant service’ we mean the team of people who will be responsible for:

  • assessing children and young people
  • arranging and carrying out the surgery, and fitting the sound processor
  • the long-term follow-up and care
  • maintaining the BCHI equipment.

The auditory implant service is provided by a dedicated team of specialists who fully understand the complex needs of each child and young person and the effect any intervention (like having a BCHI) will have. The children’s BCHI team will:

  • be able to assess the child’s needs
  • have a detailed knowledge of specialist BCHIs
  • be capable of providing long-term support to the child (and family), until they transfer to an adult service.

Sometimes this team will be based in the same hospital as the local audiology service and will include professionals from that hospital. Sometimes they will form part of a wider specialist auditory implant service.

The BCHI team will work closely with you and your child. The people working in the team should always involve you in every step of your child’s care.