(Rehabilitation Officers with Hearing Impaired people)
If you have difficulties hearing things around the home that other people take for granted, such as your doorbell, telephone or television, then your ROHI may be able to help.
The Devon Sensory Team has several ROHIs who work throughout the county and can provide advice, information, assessments and often the equipment necessary to enable you to carry on leading an independent life. Most of our ROHIs will visit you and discuss your needs within your own home, but we also have staff at 2 resource centres: Sound Base in Exeter and the Sensory Bus, which covers several sites in West Devon and Torridge. All our ROHIs will be able to offer you confidential and expert advice in any areas where your hearing impairment may be causing you difficulties.
We are happy to deal with any degree of hearing loss, whether you are profoundly Deaf or have simply noticed your hearing is not as good as it used to be. We work closely with other organisations such as
- audiology departments at your local hospital,
- job centres
as well as offering advice to other social or care workers. We are also involved, along with the other members of the Sensory Team in offering sensory awareness training talks.
When we visit people in their home to complete an assessment, they often comment that if they had only known what equipment was available, they would have asked for help much sooner. So here is a brief outline of some of the solutions to everyday problems that a ROHI may be able to offer.
Please note that all assessments are carried out on an individual basis and that Devon County Council works to an eligibility criteria. Contact the Devon Sensory Team for further details (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
"I can't hear my doorbell and I keep missing my visitors."
There is a wide range of alerting systems for your doorbell, from amplifiers or flashing light systems to vibrating pagers. Often we are able to adapt your existing doorbell by simply moving or adjusting it.
"I have difficulty in hearing my phone ringing and can't always hear what is being said when I do answer it."
BT can often install an extension bell in another room to help you to hear your phone ringing - your ROHI will be able to help you apply for one. Again there are flashing light or vibrating systems to alert you to a phone call. If your difficulty is in hearing conversation on the phone, it may be helpful for you to try an amplified phone which can work with your hearing aid - if you have one - to give you a better sound quality. For those people whose hearing impairment is severe enough to make a standard phone impossible to use, we often suggest a textphone - a cross between a phone and a mini typewriter. These textphones are used by many profoundly Deaf people and enable you to keep in touch with family and friends as well as helping you to maintain your privacy and independence by not having to rely on other people to make your phone calls for you.
"My partner says that I have the television too loud, but if I turn it down, I can't hear what is going on."
Again, there are lots of ways to improve your enjoyment of the television. If you wear a hearing aid then a loop system fitted in your home may be the answer. For those without hearing aids there are other assistive devices to enhance your sound quality: nearly all of these mean that the TV volume can be reduced, which in itself can resolve many of the problems encountered by hearing impaired people and their families. Of course, subtitles on television programmes can also be very useful.
"I have a young baby, and I am worried that I won't hear her crying."
There are special baby alarms for Deaf parents, but we are often able to adapt a High Street baby monitor by adding a vibrating pad or flashing lights. This enables Deaf or hard of hearing parents to be confident in the knowledge that they will be aware if their baby is crying.
These are obviously just a few examples of the areas your ROHI may be able to assist you in. We can also look at smoke alarm systems, alarm clocks, one-to-one alerts and door entry systems.
Much of the work that ROHIs are involved with is related to hearing aids. Although specific problems will always be referred back to the relevant Audiology Department, we can offer:
- advice on how to get the best use out of your hearing aid.
- advice about listening strategies
- maintenance or limitations of your aid
- all to help you get the maximum benefit from it.
You may also be interested in other areas of communication such as
- sign language
to help you cope with your hearing loss, and we will be able to give you details of local classes and teachers.
The same applies to both local and national organisations; we can give you contact addresses and phone numbers - see also Charities and Voluntary Organisations - Sensory.
The important thing to realise is that your ROHI is there to help you whatever the level of your hearing loss, whether you have a hearing aid or not. If you feel that you, or someone you know, would benefit from practical help or just some friendly advice, then simply contact your local Adult & Community Services office, they will take a few details and then refer you to the Sensory Team.
Also on devon.gov.uk