The Hearing Space in Leeds is an independent audiology clinic that provides hearing healthcare to the population of Leeds (Chapel Allerton, Roundhay, Moortown, Headingly, Shadwell, Adel, Alwoodley, Bramhope and also to Harrogate, Otley and beyond. The Clinical Director has over 25 years’ experience as an audiologist. Some common questions about hearing devices are answered below.
Are private hearing aids better than NHS hearing aids?
Yes and no. Let me explain. If we simply look at the level of technology, then yes, private hearing aids have the latest processing power, the latest features and potentially lead to more successful hearing aid use. However, a poorly set up hearing device, even if the latest model, will not prove optimal for the person using it. There are countless individuals who have paid a lot of money for their hearing devices, only to not use them, or struggle when using them. This is because setting up hearing devices requires the careful use of evidence-based protocols, typically requiring measurements of the actual sounds that the hearing aids deliver in the ears. (real ear measurements). The expertise in fitting the hearing aids and in aftercare is usually what people are investing in and typically at The Hearing Space, hearing aid care is offered for 4 years following hearing aid fitting.
What are real ear measurements (REMs)
Real ear measurements are used during the setting up of the hearing aids. They require the placement of a soft, thin tube in the earcanal, attached to measuring equipment. This allows the audiologist to actually measure the sound delivered in the ears by the hearing devices. Each person has a unique ear shape which affects how sound is transmitted in the ear canal. Without measuring the sound during the hearing aid fitting, it is impossible to know if the current amount of sound is being delivered into the ear.
Is there more choice available when buying hearing aids privately?
The range of hearing aids available includes manufacturers, styles, and performance level. If we think of cars as an example, there are different manufacturers (e.g., Mazda, VW) and different styles (e.g., hatchback, coupe) and also different technology levels or performance levels (e.g., Basic, Sports Edition, Special Edition).
For hearing aids, there are also different manufacturers (e.g., Phonak, Oticon, Widex), different styles (e.g., Behind-the- ear (BTE), In-the-ear (ITE), Completely in the Canal (CIC)) and different performance levels (e.g., Essential, Advanced, Premium).
The NHS has limited access to a limited range of manufacturers. In terms of style, again the range is limited, and there are certain styles of discreet hearing aids which are not provided by the NHS. In terms of performance level, again the NHS is limited. The latest performance levels and functionality levels are kept for the private hearing aid market and typically the NHS uses technology that is a few years old.
The differences between the performance levels are typically features of the hearing aids which improve listening experience, listening comfort, Bluetooth connectivity and improved ability to hear speech in noise.
Is the service provided by independent audiologists better than the NHS?
Firstly, having worked for and with the NHS for most of my career, I can say that on the whole, NHS care is good and that generally good outcomes are achieved when fitting hearing aids.
That said, people often have to wait to be seen, see different audiologists and are somewhat limited in what options are available to them.
People access NHS services either through the traditional NHS Audiology service, usually based in a hospital, or with partners like Specsavers and Scrivens, who are national chains of hearing aid providers.
This means that one of the NHS providers will take on the care of a person’s hearing aid provision for 3 years, which includes batteries, repairs, faults, and any other issues. Hearing tests are usually not repeated until the end of this 3-year period, and this often requires a re-referral by the GP. Many NHS hearing aid users don’t have their hearing checked for longer than this.
Typically, faults and repairs can take weeks to get sorted and if earwax is a problem, this often can take many weeks if not months to get a GP referral for ear wax removal.
Furthermore, the audiologist providing the hearing aid care, is often different, each time the person visits the hearing provider. This is often frustrating for the audiologist as well as the client, as there is no feeling of continuity of care.
The benefits of private, independent hearing healthcare
- Personalised service
- Wide variety of manufacturers, hearing aid styles and performance levels
- More cosmetic options for hearing aids
- Better connectivity to electronic devices such as smart phones, television, PCs and music systems
- No delays for appointments
- Local practice in the community
- Longer times for appointments
- Earwax removal often included in the hearing care package
- Building of relationship with audiologist
- Regular hearing tests
Private hearing aids at The Hearing Space
First of all, we offer a warm, friendly environment, in a quiet setting, removed from the hustle and bustle of busy NHS departments. Our Clinical Director, Paul, has the highest level of Education in Audiology, and is always looking for ways to improve the end results of fitting private hearing aids.
A lengthy initial consultation will often result in a short trial of one or two different hearing devices. We will take the necessary time to explore which devices might be the most suitable for you. This will typically depend on a variety of factors, e.g., level of hearing loss, listening needs, anatomy of your ears, your manual dexterity, connectivity requirements etc.
After this initial consultation and trial, if you are happy, an agreement to purchase a hearing care package will be made, which will typically be for a 4-year period.
Once we have agreed on a particular device, we will arrange a detailed hearing aid fitting appointment, with a 2-week follow up appointment, and then regular follow ups, throughout the year. Earwax removal is included in the price and regular hearing tests are also included. These are crucial, as if your hearing changes, the hearing aids can be rapidly re-tuned to optimise performance.
To book an initial hearing consultation or simply to chat about your hearing, please contact ‘The Hearing Space’. Contact
Tel: 0113 8730444 | M: 07999 738588 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org