On the first Thursday of every month we get to see the essential work the East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre (ESHRC) perform for the residents of Uckfield. Plenty of people come through the door to use their impressive hearing aid maintenance service, politely requesting new tubes for or cleaning of their aids, or come seeking advice, even just fresh batteries to keep them running; and almost every person once seen leaves with an enormous grin.
Speaking jovially, I can attest to the importance of maintaining working hearing aids after a few trying conversations with members of my family, who didn’t feel the need to keep their aids in good working order, or in their ears.
Speaking more seriously, it is one of the cornerstones of our lives to be able to effectively communicate with one another, and losing one’s hearing can present unwelcome challenges without proper assistance.
Those who have helped loved ones with the process of obtaining and maintaining their hearing aids from the NHS will already know that it isn’t always as straightforward as hoped. This is no slight on our health service, but rather highlights the need for services to ease the burden when simple tasks such as adjustments or fresh batteries are required.
However, ESHRC aren’t just there to keep hearing aids in working order, they also offer valuable training and education. They organise lipreading and sign language classes, and run deaf awareness courses.
Sign language classes are delivered at their centre in Eastbourne and cost a modest £60 for 10 lessons, or £40 if you’re unwaged or a pensioner. These include beginners, improvers and evening classes in British Sign Language (BSL). There are also some classes in St Leonards. The advantages of learning sign language are numerous; whether you’re deaf, hard of hearing or hearing, it gives you the ability to communicate confidently with deaf people, be they a family member or stranger, and the lessons are fun too!
Lipreading classes are offered at Eastbourne and Uckfield, also costing £60 or £40 for a 10 week course. Lipreading is an invaluable skill for both the deaf and hard of hearing, as certain sounds can be difficult to hear, and the ability to read lipshapes can help to fill in the blanks.
It’s important to draw attention to C.L.I.Ve too, ESHRC’s mobile hearing resource centre.
In terms of education, the bus offers equipment demonstrations for anyone wishing to find out about hearing devices that may help them, but the outreach service offers more still. Much like the regular maintenance service mentioned earlier, they offer hearing aid maintenance and batteries, as well as general hearing-related advice. On top of this, they also provide initial hearing screening tests and adult social care referrals.
Best of all, because it’s mobile, they travel all over the county in an effort to make their services as widely accessible as possible, helping those who can’t easily travel to find the assistance they require.
A list of all their planned dates and locations can be found on their website here (scroll down for 2020).
So, if you or someone you know has trouble with hearing aids or wishes to learn incredibly useful new skills, do feel free to utilise the services offered by ESHRC.
It must be noted that hearing aid maintenance services are only available to those who acquired their hearing aids from either Park Practice in Hampden Park Eastbourne, or Conquest Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea.
Also, if you do wish to utilise the maintenance service please remember to bring along your brown NHS book.
For any further information about East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre or their services, please feel free to check their website at http://eshrc.org/
Written by Neil Sonsthagen