Charity calls for national hearing plan

Charity Calls For National Hearing Plan
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By Cillian Sherlock, PA

Ireland prescribes hearing aids at approximately half the rate of the UK, according to a leading charity.

Chime, the Irish charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, is calling on the Department of Health to urgently implement a national hearing care plan.


In advance of World Hearing Day on Sunday, it says people are struggling with hearing loss without support.

The charity will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Wednesday.

Helen Walmsley recently started using hearing aids (Fintan Clarke/Mediaconsult)


Chime CEO Mark Byrne said a proposed plan should “provide a clear pathway as to how people can address hearing loss through cutting waiting lists and making hearing aids more accessible and affordable”.

He added: “We will highlight how over the past five years, Ireland has prescribed hearing aids at approximately half the rate of the UK – ensuring people are struggling with hearing loss with no support.”

The call for a hearing plan is being backed by a Dublin-based chief executive who, before a diagnosis of hearing loss, used subtitles during Zoom seminars to understand what was being said.

Helen Walmsley, the head of Voluntary Service International, the Irish branch of an international peace network, said hearing aids changed her life and urged those who suspect they have hearing loss to get tested.


She recently got the hearing aids from Chime.

Ms Walmsley recalled how she was “fed up” with the frustration, embarrassment and exhaustion of having to look at those speaking to her, asking people to repeat themselves numerous times and the negative impact on her social life due to background noise.

“I did not realise other people were not hearing as I did. It was a revelation that I needed hearing aids.



“I have mild to moderate hearing loss. I can hear high pitched and low pitched sound, but mid-ranged frequencies, voices and music, is where my hearing loss is.

“So I did not know there were all sorts of things I was not hearing properly.


“When I put in my hearing aids for the first time, I could hear a clock ticking in the audiologist’s room I had not heard before, and my clothes brushing against a chair.

“Sounds became richer. I wanted to hear familiar voices, which are more nuanced for me now.

“Each sound is now an individual thing, everything sounds better.

“You do not know what you cannot hear. Life is much easier now. Before, I had difficulty holding a proper conversation and would miss a lot of what was being said.

“It takes getting used to, but hearing aids now are so technologically advanced. Mine come with an app, which I can use to adjust volume, prioritise sound direction and reduce background noise.”

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