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Response to OPAN Joint Statement

Media Release

15 November 2021

Rights of Older Australians Critical in Aged Care Reforms and Hearing Health Services

Audiology Australia (AudA) has backed calls urging the Australian Government to embed the rights of older people in a reformed Aged Care Act, as one of over 25 signatories to a joint statement with The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) released today.

The statement follows earlier AudA submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommending key measures to support hearing health in aged care settings, including the use of universal hearing friendly design principles in creating aged care spaces and steps to ensure audiological services adequately address the complex needs of aged care recipients.

“It is important that any Aged Care policy reform recognises the rights of older Australians, their living environments and healthcare requirements, including specific hearing health and communication needs,” said Audiology Australia CEO, Dr Tony Coles.

Dr Coles said with the rate of hearing loss set to double in the next three decades with Australia’s ageing population, hearing health plays an important role in maintaining quality of life, health, and wellbeing of older Australians, including aged care recipients.

AudA is warning that traditional hearing service models comprising of combining audiological assessment and fitting of hearing aids do not go far enough to adequately address the complex communication needs of aged care recipients. Holistic approaches to hearing healthcare that include group and individual rehabilitation, as well as counselling and engagement with broader support networks including families are needed.

Audiology Australia Board President, Dr Barbra Timmer said a holistic approach and assistive technologies supported with the adoption of universal hearing-friendly design approaches were vital in aged care environments.

“This is important for those with dementia who can be particularly affected by their acoustic environments and may disengage from communication sooner,” said Dr Timmer” said Dr Timmer.

Updated to reflect evidence-based findings from the Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission in August 2020, AudA released a position paper on hearing health and dementia in June 2020.

AudA also strongly recommends the inclusion of education and training courses relevant to the management of hearing loss and dementia.

“We believe it is fundamental for quality aged care that staff have the skills to communicate with people living with dementia and hearing difficulties and are able to provide care and maintenance of hearing health care equipment, such as hearing aids,” said Dr Timmer.

AudA is available for comment on the report and its recommendations.

About Audiology Australia

Audiology Australia is the peak professional association representing audiologists in Australia. Established in 1968, it has a current membership of over 3,000 audiologists representing approximately 95% of the profession.

Audiology Australia’s mission is to provide leadership in the science and practice of audiology through advocacy, education and networking. We enable audiologists to deliver the highest standards of person-centred care. Audiology Australia provides professional accreditation for audiologists. Professional accreditation by Audiology Australia is a requirement to provide audiological services that fall under Medicare, the Hearing Services Program, state and territory work cover schemes, as well as many private health insurance funds. The profession of audiology is self regulating, and Audiology Australia strives to help our members achieve the highest standards when delivering services to their clients.

More Information

Full Copy of Joint Statement

Read AudA’s Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Here (November 2020)

Read AudA's Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Here (December 2019)

Read AudA's upated Hearing Health and Dementia Position Statement

For Interview

Dr Barbra Timmer, Audiology Australia Board President
Dr Tony Coles, Audiology Australia CEO

Contact:

Laura Watson
Audiology Australia Communications and PR Manager
Ph. 04215 18733 E. laura.watson@audiology.asn.au

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