Chris Carr, Director and Head Audiologist at Hearing Healthcare Centre
Chris Carr has been at the helm of Hearing Healthcare Centre (HHC) for over 30 years. In that time, he has seen incredible advances in the industry and his passion and enthusiasm for everything hearing related is infectious.
As with any profession which involves working with the general public, no two days are the same. After checking emails, deliveries and equipment, he prepares for the part of the job he loves most; helping the public.
Undertaking Hearing Tests
Chris and his colleagues at HHC offer two hearing assessments; the first is a free 15 minute screening, which is available to everybody and is part of a government initiative to encourage people to have their hearing checked regularly.
The second is a full hearing evaluation. HHC allow for about one and half hours, which includes a complete and thorough consultation. Clients are given four comprehensive tests which look at every aspect of their hearing. Three of the tests are clinical and the final one is a speech-in-noise test. “Over a coffee, we will discuss the client’s medical details, lifestyle and what their requirements are,” he explains. “Then we conduct the tests, explaining everything as we go along.”
The speech-in-noise test involves the client listening through headphones to sentences with an increasing amount of background noise. This enables Chris to work out the severity of the hearing impediment using normal speech.
Fitting Hearing Aids
After the tests, he will discuss with the client what their level of hearing loss is and the best solution to deal with it. Clients are able to try out different hearing aids and whilst they do so, Chris plays a variety of noises to demonstrate their effectiveness. He also takes people out on to the street in noisy traffic environments for them to experience the difference a device can make to their everyday lives.
Incredibly 50% of people with moderate to severe hearing problems do not wear a hearing aid and 5% of those in the severe to profound bracket do not use any aids either.
“When we fit a hearing aid it is a very positive experience for the recipient,” explains Chris. “However, it’s not like buying glasses where the result is immediate. Some people will have had a gradual deterioration of their hearing for about 15 years before they decide to do anything about it. Suddenly, with a new hearing aid, the sounds return and the background noise comes back, which can be a distraction. We therefore have to counsel people and check that the volume is not too much and more than they can cope with.”
Hearing aid settings are therefore normally adjusted gradually and it could be eight months before the client has worked their way up to the optimum setting for them. This emphasises the importance of visiting an independent that offers excellent aftercare and support.
Demonstrating the latest technology
Chris’ day therefore involves not only seeing new clients but also existing clientss who pop in for minor adjustments or one of their free six monthly appointments.
As well as testing and fitting hearing aids, Chris and his fellow audiologists find they spend a lot of time explaining and discussing the many options available. “A lot of people just do not realise how hearing solutions have progressed,” he explains. “There’s technology that can link your hearing aid to your television, mobile phone and MP3 player so you can adjust the volume for your personal needs.
“You can also pair your iPhone to your hearing aid so it streams the conversation from the phone straight to the hearing aid. There is even a GPS setting so that if you are going to a particular venue such as a noisy restaurant or a theatre you can pre-programme your hearing aid to the correct settings automatically.”
Providing Preventative Treatments
Not all Chris’s clients however have experienced hearing loss. Some clients visit Hearing Healthcare Centre for preventative treatments. They include musicians, gun enthusiasts and motor sport participants who are looking for ear protection to prevent hearing loss in the future. To complete the spectrum Chris also occasionally sees children with hearing loss, though youngsters with hearing problems are normally dealt with via GPs and hospitals.
As he completes another working day Chris is able to reflect on the very real difference he has made to people’s quality of life. “I am passionate about what we do at Hearing Healthcare Centre and I love my work,” he says. “Looking back on the changes that have taken place over the last 30 years it’s quite incredible and it is a real pleasure for me to share these advances with our clients and see the massive improvements we can make to people’s lives.”