The Audiology department provides a comprehensive service for hearing impaired adults, from the initial assessment and hearing aid fitting, to follow up care and rehabilitation. The department works closely with the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Department and local hearing charity Hi-Kent in order to provide a thorough hearing assessment and rehabilitation. The department also has a hearing therapist providing specialist support on areas such as communication tactics and tinnitus.
The department offers appointments at Maidstone Hospital, Pembury Hospital and Sevenoaks Hospital. Every effort is made to try and accommodate you at your nearest hospital, however the department is very busy and so this may not be possible. Clinics run during the weekdays Monday-Friday. The department does not offer walk in appointments, you will be seen by appointment only.
Getting a Hearing Assessment
If you feel that your hearing has worsened and wish to have a hearing assessment then you will need to see your GP for a referral. Your GP will refer you for an assessment either directly to the Audiology department or via the ENT Department depending on their consultation with you. You must be available within 6 weeks for an appointment and ensure that your GP has checked that your ears are clear of wax.
We recommend that all existing patients have a routine hearing test every 2 ½ – 3 years. If you have had a hearing test at this Audiology department within the last 3 years and wish to have your hearing reassessed then you can contact the department directly to arrange this. If it has been over 3 years since your last hearing assessment then you will need to see your GP to arrange a referral to the department. You need to make sure that you have your ears checked for wax by your GP before attending your appointment.
What to do Before Your Appointment
- Check Your Ears are free from wax. Before any appointment at the Audiology department you will need to see your GP to ensure that your ears are free from wax. If wax is found to be blocking your ears when you attend your appointment then you will be asked to see your GP and will have to be rebooked before any hearing assessment, hearing aid fitting or adjustments to the hearing aids can be made.
- Inform the department of any assistance required. Please inform the department prior to attending if you have a disability which requires any extra assistance or if you will need an interpreter (including sign language).
- Ensure you bring everything required. Please ensure that if you have been seen previously by the department and issued with hearing aids that you bring these to your appointment along with your brown hearing aid book. You will also need to make sure you bring with you details of any current medication.
- You are welcome to bring a chaperone with you to your appointment. If you wish to have someone with you at your appointment (relative, friend, carer etc) then you will need to arrange this yourself and bring them along.
What to Expect from a Hearing Assessment Appointment
During your appointment the Audiologist will:
- Ask questions about your hearing problems and your general medical history.
- Examine your ears
- Perform a hearing test; this is done by presenting a variety of tones at different intensities and pitch via headphones in which you are required to respond to by pressing a button.
- Discuss the results of the hearing test with you and further management options. If hearing aids are recommended and if you wish to proceed with a fitting the Audiologist will where possible fit you with the hearing aid during this appointment. If you already have hearing aids then these can be adjusted or upgraded where necessary during this appointment. In some cases you will be required to come back for a second appointment where you will be fitted with your hearing aids.
What to Expect from a Hearing Aid Fitting
Recommended hearing aids vary depending on the type and severity of the hearing loss and pathology of the ears. The Department mostly fits behind the ear hearing aids or receiver in the canal hearing aids; depending on the severity of your hearing loss and suitability these can be fitted with either a slim tube/wire and dome or with an earmould (made specifically for the shape of your ear).
The results from your hearing test will be used to set up your prescribed hearing aid(s). These can then be further adjusted and set up for your specific needs with extra settings (i.e. the loop system)/ a volume control. You will be shown how to use and maintain the hearing aids during your fitting and talked through the process of adjusting to wearing your hearing aids. Please see the leaflets below for further information on maintenance and getting used to your hearing aids.
What to do if you Have Problems with Your Hearing Aid(s)
If your hearing aid is not working properly or you feel it needs some adjustment and it has been thoroughly cleaned/checked for wax or any blockages (please see leaflets below for information on cleaning, maintenance, troubleshooting and Hi-Kent (where they are able to assist you with this)) then you will need to contact the department. You will then be advised to either post the hearing aid in to be checked along with a cover letter and a stamped addressed envelope (2 first class stamps) or where it is felt appropriate booked in for an appointment to see a technician or an Audiologist.
What to do if you Have Lost Your Hearing Aid(s)
If you have lost your hearing aid then you will need to contact the department to arrange for a replacement. There is a charge to replace lost hearing aids, starting at £100 per hearing aid. In occasional special circumstances the charge may be waived, but this will apply to the first instance of loss only. Any future losses for anyone will incur a charge. If you wish to appeal the decision to charge then this needs to be put in writing to the department and your case will be reviewed by a panel of Audiologists.
What to do if you need replacement batteries/hearing aid tubes and domes
If you require batteries, please attend a Hi-Kent drop in clinic (link to Hi-Kent website below) or send your brown hearing aid book and a return stamped addressed envelope (2 first class stamps) to the Audiology Department at Maidstone Hospital.
If you require new tubes and you have a hearing aid with standard tubing and a moulded ear-piece, please attend a Hi-Kent drop in clinic where the volunteers are able to do this for you. If you are happy to retube the earmould yourself then we can send you tubing through the post – please send us your brown hearing aid book and a return stamped addressed envelope (2 first class stamps). If you have a hearing aid with slim “open” or “life-fit” tubing, please attend a Hi-Kent drop in session or send in your brown hearing aid book and a return stamped addressed envelope (2 first class stamps) and we will send you spares. If you have a hearing aid with a wire and a dome then please post in a stamped addressed envelope (2 first class stamps) with your brown book for any replacement domes/filters.
Hi-Kent run clinics in the community and these are often closer to your home and easier to access than the hospital. The volunteers are able to exchange hearing aid batteries, retube earmoulds and supply spare tubes/domes. They are unable to repair faulty hearing aids or make any adjustments to the sound of the hearing aids. If you think you have a faulty hearing aid or your problem is more complex than a battery exchange or replacement tubing, please contact the Audiology department directly.
Other Equipment/Information to help with Hearing Impairment
There is other equipment available to assist with activities such as watching TV, listening to music or talking on the phone. These devices can either work with your hearing aids or separately. Hi-Kent are able to offer help and guidance on other equipment available at their main centre. Please see the link to their website below for more information.
Contacting the Department
You can contact the Audiology department on telephone 01622 226198, between 8:30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, or via email email@example.com.
Please note: the telephone number receives a high volume of calls, therefore, we ask for your patience and apologise in advance for the delay in answering. If you leave a message on the answer machine then a member of the team will aim to get back to you within 48 hours. Please have your hospital number/NHS number to hand when leaving a message.
The Audiology department is located in Outpatients Zone 1 in Pembury Hospital and in the brown zone on the ground floor in Maidstone Hospital.
Useful Information Leaflets
Include links to download information leaflets for:
- Getting used to your hearing aids
- Life fitting cleaning/maintenance
- RIC fitting cleaning/maintenance for domes + moulds
- Earmould cleaning/maintenance
- Wax management