‘FREE TO HEAR PROGRAMME’ SET TO TRANSFORM HEARING FOR KIWIS HIT BY FINANCIAL HARDSHIP
The life-changing benefits of better hearing are within reach for Kiwis experiencing hearing loss coupled with financial hardship thanks to the Free to Hear Programme from leading hearing service provider Bay Audiology.
Over 500,000 people in New Zealand recognise that they are affected by hearing loss according to the New Zealand Hearing Industry Association. The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing suggests that many more suffer but do not yet recognise the impact hearing loss is having on their lives. To complicate matters, the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 have hit households in the pocket, with the decision to get hearing aids is being increasingly seen by many as an ‘extra’, rather than a necessity.
A survey* of over 10,000 nationwide respondents who have hearing loss revealed that the impact of COVID-19 on household incomes was forcing cut backs on items like groceries, household items and clothing in order to access health fservices, illustrating how important the Free to Hear Programme is for everyday Kiwis according to Bay Audiology Managing Director Dean Lawrie.
“Nobody should miss out on hearing the joys of life,” says Mr Lawrie. “It can be a frustrating, anxious and isolating world for those who experience hearing loss. I myself wear hearing aids and know first-hand the transformative impact of being able to hear my family, friends, colleagues and the world around me.”
“It’s in our nature to get on with our job of helping Kiwis gain better hearing, so we’ve been offering the Free to Hear Programme for seven years and the opportunity to tell people about the Programme again during March, National Hearing Awareness Month, is a very important step for us.”
Introduced by Bay Audiology in 2015, more than 3,000 people have already been fitted with starter hearing aids at no cost through the Free to Hear Programme. Government funding is currently available to go towards hearing aids for eligible people and other additional costs to help provide this life-changing service are waived by Bay Audiology.
Customers’ needs are assessed on an individual basis by a qualified Audiologist to determine eligibility for the Free to Hear Programme including a full diagnostic consultation to assess the extent of hearing loss. If the customer’s hearing needs can be met by a hearing aid device within the Programme, and their personal circumstances mean that they would not be able to access hearing aids to improve their everyday life, then their eligibility for the Programme will be approved and they will receive starter hearing aids and a six-week battery supply as well as ongoing support.
Sarah Neilson, Chief Audiologist at Bay Audiology, commented that Free to Hear Programme recipients said hearing their family and friends, feeling involved in social situations and feeling more confident are all huge improvements in their daily lives now they have their hearing aids.
“It’s a remarkable and moving experience to witness someone improve their hearing when they’re first fitted with hearing aids,” said Ms Neilson. “We really do believe that everyone deserves to have the best hearing possible, regardless of what their own personal barriers have been to accessing hearing assistance.”
“Every one of our Audiologists are committed to working with people enduring tough times to ensure they don’t miss out on better hearing. We welcome anyone seeking help with their hearing to pop in to one of our clinics for a chat with our specialist team.”
Kiwis have trusted Bay Audiology with their hearing needs for over 30 years, supporting more than 500,000 Kiwis with their hearing health. Bay Audiology is New Zealand’s most trusted hearing specialist according to Reader's Digest Most Trusted Awards and has clinics in over 115 communities nationwide.
*Survey conducted online with 10,476 Bay Audiology customers in August 2021.