Choosing a Hearing Clinic, Audiologist, or Hearing Instrument Practitioner
Hearing aids cannot “cure” your hearing loss; they do not restore normal hearing but they can help you hear more clearly. To be as effective as possible, the hearing aid must be “custom fitted” to your specific hearing loss. There is no such thing as a “one fits all” hearing aid. Today’s technology allows a trained professional to program a person’s hearing aid to his/her specific hearing loss. Trained professionals can also make sure the hearing aid is properly fitted. Hearing clinics are staffed by Audiologists or Hearing Instrument Practitioners (HIP). What’s the difference you might ask? Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Practitioners as well as Speech Pathologists have been designated health care professionals in BC under the Health Professions Act since December 15, 2008. They are regulated by The College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of British Columbia. (CSHHPBC) An audiologist is trained to test hearing in all populations including infants, the mentally disabled, and those who cannot respond to the typical hearing tests. He/she evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss and other hearing-related disorders. A Hearing Instrument Specialist is a college-trained professional who is specifically equipped to test hearing in the adult (16 years and older) population and to recommend and fit hearing aids. He/she can refer to other hearing health care professionals when necessary. See www.bchealthregulators.ca for more information.
It is not within our scope to recommend a specific audiologist, or HIP, or hearing clinic. New clinics are always opening. See our List of North Shore Hearing Clinics. However we want you to be well informed. Here are some guidelines:
- Talk to other hearing aid wearers. Where do they go?
- Is the hearing clinic in a convenient location? On a bus route, easy to park nearby.
- Check the hours of operation.
- Is the staff adequately trained and licensed? You can check the registry on the College of Speech and Hearing website at https://www.cshhpbc.org and follow the steps to register/directory.
- Are the hearing tests free?
- Do they provide hearing aids from a variety of manufacturers?
- Are the hearing aids the most current technology available on today’s market?
- Is the audiologist or HIP knowledgeable about each brand?
- What kind of warranty is provided for the hearing aids?
- Is there a trial period? How long is it the trial period?
- When do you have to pay for the aids? What portion is refundable if you return the aids?
- Are there payment options available?
- Is there insurance available for the hearing aid?
- Are the hearing aids rechargeable?
- If not, are batteries included with the purchase? For how long?
- Are cleaning supplies included in the price?
- Does the price of the aid include services such as follow-up appointments, cleaning or are these charged separately?
A person’s relationship with his/her audiologist is one of the most important relationships a person can have. You must be comfortable with the clinic, the staff, and your audiologist. Look for a patient person, one who will understand your concerns and work with you to find solutions to your particular hearing issues. You must also be realistic and do your part. Wear the aids and keep track of situations where they work and where they don’t and give specific feedback to your audiologist.