So – you’ve decided to visit a local
hearing aid dispenser . It’s possible your choice might have been influenced by the modern premises, conveniently situated in your local high street – and the fact you can walk in and be seen as quickly as when buying spectacles. In fact, these days, many well known high street ‘Opticians’ frequently sell hearing aids as well. And remember, the convenience factor would apply to any subsequent visits too (for, say, follow up or hearing aid repair).
You should consider your choice of hearing aid dispenser carefully. For a list of things to bear in mind when choosing a hearing aid dispenser click here . You can search for dispensers in your local area via the Hearing Aid Council website .
Apart from convenience (which may be a major factor for some people), what other reasons might you have for choosing this route? One other consideration is the time it takes to be seen, and (if needed) to acquire hearing aids. You are likely to find that the process is significantly quicker than via the NHS route, and that if the tests suggest that hearing aids will help, you could have these within a week or two of first visiting the dispenser. However NHS waiting times have improved significantly. You will have a wider range of hearing aids to choose from too, and these will vary not only in style, but in price as well - but do bear in mind that a good portion of the price you pay goes towards the individual and personal attention you should receive, so you are entitled to expect first class service.
Do not assume that hearing aids you pay for will necessarily provide greater benefit than those you would receive free of charge through the NHS – a lot depends on the skill of the audiologist or dispenser in selecting appropriate aids and adjusting them for maximum benefit. .In fact the hearing aids available on the NHS are at the top end of the technology available. And no matter what your reasons for choosing the private sector route, the actual tests of hearing and the procedures for fitting hearing aids (if needed) Are much more detailed in the NHS than in the private sector.
Some dispensers may offer a home visit (especially via newspaper advertisements) but there are advantages in visiting well–equipped premises. For instance, you may feel more in control of what could be a significant transaction. If someone does come to your home, do make sure it is because you want them to. However, whether you visit the dispenser or the dispenser comes to you, it can be helpful to have someone with you. There will be a lot of information to take in, and you will need to be very clear about the terms of any prospective purchase.
During a typical appointment your hearing aid dispenser will:
• Look into your ears using an otoscope
• Ask you a number of questions about your ears, hearing problems, family history of hearing problems and your health in general.
• Test your hearing using an audiometer
• Explain the results and which hearing aids are most suited to you
• Take an impression of your ear if needed for the type of hearing
• You will usually have to come back for another appointment to have your hearing aids fitted.