For most of yesterday (1 October) #olderpeoplesday was trending on twitter as local and national groups up and down the country celebrated the achievements and opportunities of older people being full of life. Sense joined in the day with our video “With a little help and my friends” promoting the materials we produce for older people and professionals working with older people.
It was deeply ironic, then, that North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chose 1 October to implement their decision to restrict NHS funded hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate adult-onset hearing loss. This decision is likely to impact disproportionately on older people who are losing both hearing and sight.
The CCG has specified that those with ‘severe multiple sensory disability’ are exempt from these restrictions. However, there are many people, particularly older people, who will have a level of sight loss that, when combined with their hearing loss, will have a significant impact on their lives but won’t fulfil this criteria. The subsequent impact of unmanaged and unsupported hearing loss can be significant and detrimental to individual’s health, quality of life and overall wellbeing.
Cuts to hearing aid provision are simply not cost effective. An ageing population means an increasing number of people with both hearing and sight loss. Failure to provide hearing aids for those who need them will reduce the quality of life for patients and lead to increased demand and cost for NHS and social care services in the long term.
Older people with hearing and sight loss can still enjoy life – but only with the right support. That must include hearing aids for everyone who would benefit.