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Moving to adult audiology

Photo: If you use sign language, your audiology department can arrange an interpreter.

As a child and teenager, you'll have had regular appointments to check your hearing and make sure that your hearing aid or cochlear implant programming is up-to-date and working well. But between the ages of 16-21, you'll move to adult's audiology. The way things work in the adult clinic is different.

Use the buttons below to find out about how the adult audiology clinic works.

The adult hearing aid service won't send you regular appointments to attend. Instead, it's up to you to make an appointment if you have any worries about your hearing, or if there's a problem with your hearing aid. 

Make sure you know how to contact the adult hearing aid service. Do you have their telephone or textphone number? Do they have an email address you can use to contact them? Do they run 'drop in repair clinics' when you don't need an appointment and can just turn up if your hearing aid breaks down? Do you know the time / day / place these clinics are held?

Tip: Most audiology clinics will provide a leaflet with this information - make sure you ask for an up-to-date copy!

Tip: Make sure you find out how you can get to the new clinic if it's in a different place. Which buses stop there? Is there car parking? What are the parking charges?

In the children's clinic you may have been seen by several people including an audiologist, a paediatrician (doctor who specialises in children's health issues), an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, or an audiovestibular doctor (a doctor who specialises in hearing and balance disorders). You may also have had your Teacher of the Deaf or educational audiologist attend some appointments with you. You probably got used to seeing the same people.

In the adult clinic, you'll probably only see an audiologist unless you have any other medical problems that need care or treatment. You might see a different audiologist each time you go there.

Tip: Ask if your clinic has a transition service for young people. There may be an audiologist who specialises in seeing young deaf adults and who has experience of both the children's and adult services and the different hearing aids and equipment used in both.

If you're going away to college or university, do you know how to contact the nearest adult audiology service whilst you are away? Your audiologist might be able to share your information with the other service. Your college or university GP may need to refer you to the nearest service when you get there to make sure you have everything you need. Alternatively, you might prefer to travel back to your home audiology service for appointments.
Tip: Ask your audiologist for a copy of your history, hearing test results and current hearing aid settings so that you can show them to the new service.

Tip: If you don't already have one, ask your audiologist for a hearing aid record book. This is usually a small brown booklet that the audiologist uses to record repairs or changes to your hearing aids, as well as when batteries are issued. If you're moving to a new area or service, you can use the book as evidence that your hearing aids were provided by the NHS and are therefore entitled to NHS services. It can also be used to get new batteries by post.

You may be able to get help with your travel costs through the 'Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme' (HTCS) if you're under the care of a consultant, and if you or your parents receive either Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, are named on a NHS tax exemption certificate or qualify under the NHS low-income scheme. 

Find out more about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) on the NHS website.

The audiology service will do their best to book an interpreter for any planned appointments. You should not be expected to have a friend or family member interpret for you, unless you prefer this.

The audiology service is unlikely to be able to provide an interpreter for short-notice appointments or 'drop-in sessions'. If you need to see an audiologist at short notice, ask if they use a video interpreting service, or consider asking a friend or relative to interpret for you.

Tip: Don't assume that an interpreter will be booked automatically!

Tip: Check your appointment letter to see if an interpreter has been booked and if it isn't clear, contact the audiology service to remind them.

Tip: Remember to tell the audiology clinic as soon as possible if you can't make the appointment, so that the interpreter is cancelled in plenty of time.

If you're not happy with your audiology service, the first step should be to speak to Head of Service and explain why.

If your concern is a general one or you have ideas for ways to improve the service, you could also contact your local Children's Hearing Service Working Group (CHSWG). Lots of places have such a group which is made up of people that work with deaf children as well as a parent of a deaf child. It's a good idea to ask this parent about what things are like in your area and how to solve some of the problems. Your audiology or local Deaf Children's Society should be able to give you their contact details.

If your area doesn't have a CHSWG then contact the hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). They can talk about things with the audiology department for you. You can get the contact information for PALS from your hospital's website.

Find out how to complain to the NHS.

Every PCT and Hospital Trust has a complaints procedure that is available in waiting areas, from their website or you can contact the hospital and ask them to send you a copy. Trusts must reply to you in writing in a short time.