Newsletter Winter 2019-20

HIE  Frome

The Hearing Information Exchange, Frome

Improving services for adults with hearing  loss  in  homes and hospitals


Newsletter  Number  One      Winter 2019 -2020.


What is HIE?

Following recent local press publicity about services for people with hearing loss in homes and hospitals, I received several requests for further information. This newsletter provides access to the material I have gathered.


HIE Frome is open to everyone interested in hearing loss in Frome and beyond, including patients, relatives, volunteers, staff in health and care services and curious onlookers. Send me your email address to be included in the circulation list. Your details will not be divulged to others without your consent and I will never ask you for money.


Why is HIE needed?

Hearing loss affects 75% of residents in care homes. Many local people are trying to improve their circumstances but the work is hampered by a lack of knowledge and poor communication between the people and organisations concerned. In the past year, training sessions on re-tubing for front line staff have been restricted due to a shortage of people with the necessary skills to conduct them.

How can HIE help?

Unlike other challenges facing health and social care services, re-tubing does not need multi-million pound budgets or highly skilled specialists. Ordinary people doing every- day things, can transform lives. We want to unlock the energy and commitment of local citizens. When people of goodwill are aware of the trauma that can beset someone whose faulty hearing aid remains unattended for weeks, they want to do something about it.


Frank’s Fund

This Fund was set-up in 2019 to improve services for people with hearing loss living in homes and hospitals in the Frome area. It is named in memory of my brother who, in the last years of his life, was profoundly deaf.


The Fund works with others to train staff and volunteers in maintaining hearing aids. It also plans to provide hearing devices for demonstration purposes to enable people to familiarise themselves with products before buying.


Frank’s Fund is not a charity and does not compete with charities for income. It offers seed corn funding for projects that promote and nurture change.


A national perspective

In 2019, Frank’s Fund published, When silence is no longer golden, a survey on services for people with hearing loss in homes and hospitals.


Following correspondence with the Care Quality Commission a further report was prepared, An unfolding scandal, recommending improvements to  the regulatory system.


The Care Quality Commission relies on The Health and Social Care Act 2012 to regulate services in England. The Act does not oblige health and social care services to ensure hearing aids are in working order. It merely places a duty on the NHS to ensure patients can communicate their health needs to staff.  Their need to converse with family and friends, to use a telephone or enjoy television and other recreational activities are ignored.  


 Self-funded care home residents have the right to have an aid re-tubed by the NHS only if they cannot otherwise communicate with NHS staff but they must personally attend an NHS facility. 


An offer to readers

Solutions to social challenges are best found in the communities in which they arise. Accordingly, Frank’s Fund is offering up to £100 towards the cost of new local projects that improve the lives of people with hearing loss. Projects may be a service, a training scheme or an item of equipment. The Fund will meet up to two thirds of the total cost of a project which must help more than one person.

A challenge to re-tubers

Deaf Awareness Week takes place from 6th to 12th May 2020. To raise interest in hearing loss, HIE wants to offer a walk-in hearing aid re-tubing service in a Frome supermarket for two hours during the week. Can you re-tube a hearing aid? Are you willing to volunteer your time? This may be a chance to meet some interesting people. I will buy you a drink and control the crowd.


More ambitiously, we could invite the public to a training session on re-tubing in a supermarket. It is time re-tubing came out of the closet. Are there any takers?


Getting in touch

If you have ideas or opinions about services, want more information or wish to apply to Frank’s Fund for a grant please get in touch. On request, I will email you When silence is no longer golden and An unfolding scandal.


Please let me know if you want to learn how to re-tube a hearing aid or to train others to do so. HIE will try to match givers with receivers. If you are running a re-tubing training session and have spare places, please let me know.


Contact details

Wally Harbert.  9, Button Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 3DR. I do not use a telephone.

                                                              This may be a one-off newsletter or the first of a series, depending on the response it provokes.