The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a new quality standard focusing on assessment and management of hearing loss in adults (aged ≥18 years) with respect to high-quality care and priority areas for improvement.
The key goals of the quality standard are improvements in the following areas:
- Ability of hearing;
- Experience of patients treated in primary, community and secondary care settings;
- Health-related quality of life for patients, families, carers and communication partners;
- Social functioning;
- Participation in education; and
- Employment rates.
The quality standard covers the following six recommendations:
- Individuals in whom earwax is responsible for hearing loss or other symptoms, or preventing ear examination or ear canal impressions being taken, should have it removed in primary care or community ear care settings.
- Individuals with sudden onset of hearing loss in one or both ears unexplained by external or middle ear causes should be referred for immediate or urgent specialist medical care.
- Individuals with rapid worsening of hearing loss in one or both ears unexplained by external or middle ear causes should be referred for urgent specialist medical care.
- Individuals with an initial presentation of hearing difficulties not attributable to impacted earwax or acute infection should undergo an audiological assessment.
- Individuals whose ability to communicate and hear has been affected by hearing loss should be offered hearing aids.
- Individuals with hearing aids should receive a follow-up audiology appointment six to 12 weeks following fitting of hearing aids.
Health professionals should also consider the quality standard on Dementia, Mental well-being and independence for older people, Mental well-being of older people in care homes and Care and support of people growing older with a learning disability when providing services for hearing loss.