Hearing Health Promotion Program
by Kacey Brown
This fall, Audiology and Nursing students at the University of Memphis teamed up to promote better hearing for older adults in Memphis. Dr. Jani Johnson from the School of Communication Sciences & Disorders and Dr. Jason Sasser and Dr. Jan Wilson from the Loewenberg College of Nursing led an interdisciplinary, evidence-based, community outreach program called the Hearing Health Promotion Program (HHPP). Dr. Sasser contacted CSD with the idea to address the low rate of hearing screening in the older adult population and to create a unique opportunity for nurses and audiologists to collaborate. "The specific goals of the HHPP are to increase the number of older adults with a recent hearing screening, facilitate appropriate care provision related to hearing health, and to increase knowledge among older adults of how to improve, preserve, and manage hearing function," stated Dr. Sasser.
Many benefits are becoming apparent. Audiology and Nursing students learn from each other while conducting hearing screenings and educating older adults about hearing health. Olivia Naegle, a 3rd year Audiology Student described her experience: "We were given the opportunity to mentor nursing students which laid the foundation for our future interprofessional interactions and supervision of students." Dr. Johnson is also excited about the immediate impact that the program is having on CSD students and the community. She noted, "If our students can begin to appreciate that there are different approaches to person-centered care and understand how different health professions can work together to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss, that's definitely a step in the right direction."
The interdisciplinary team not only implemented the HHPP at several retirement facilities in the Memphis area, they also have begun a clinical research program that will accompany this project. The researchers will assess the impact that this program might have on individuals and their broader communities. Dr. Johnson explained that "an interdisciplinary hearing health promotion program that includes not only widespread screening but also education about hearing loss and hearing health, might motivate older adults to make changes to improve their hearing-related quality of life." Some of these changes might also affect social connectedness and overall quality of life.