Guidance: New social work practice resource for working with people suffering hearing loss

Today, to mark the start of Deaf Awareness Week, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has launched a new practice guide to help social workers to better serve people with hearing problems, available here.

The BASW Acquired Hearing Loss Practice Guidance has been produced by a small group of members using research findings, practice wisdom and service user and carer expertise. It contains a range of helpful suggestions of how social workers can help those with acquired hearing loss.

Hearing loss can have a substantial impact on people who are affected and, on their friends, colleagues and families, and is known to lead to social isolation, depression and misunderstandings. The guide is backed by Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults (England), and Mike Hedges, Chair of the Chair of the Welsh Assembly Cross Party Group for D/deaf issues.

Peter Simcock, BASW member and senior lecturer at Birmingham City University, is one of the co-authors of the guide. He says: “Social workers are known for having strong communication skills, and yet many of these need to be adapted when working with adults with acquired hearing loss. It is important that social workers are aware that acquired hearing loss has multiple psycho-social effects, which are often more significant than the medical and audiological matters.

“Such effects must be considered in social work assessments, to consider the impact of acquired hearing loss on people’s desired outcomes and on their well-being.”

BASW’s incoming chair Gerry Nosowska worked on the project too and added: “This guide gives great practical, empowering advice coming directly from lived experience and practice expertise. It’s an inspiring example of how committed social workers have taken the initiative to offer support for social work that they are passionate about.”

In Wales, the guide’s launch is being marked with a special event with Mike Hedges AM on Wednesday 16th May at 12.30 at the Pierhead building in Cardiff.

Hearing loss

While most people affected by hearing loss are over the age of 60, the loss of hearing can occur in anyone, regardless of age. Currently there are approximately 11 million people in the UK affected by loss of hearing, that’s 1 in every 6 people with a hearing disability, with 3.7 million of those affected being of a working age.

Deaf Awareness Week 2018 runs from 14th – 20th May and is a unique campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss, how it impacts the person and people around them, and what we can do to help. Many different organisations participate, and the week provides an opportunity for each to promote their own work within the broad spectrum of deafness.