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Audiology Clinics Begin to Re-Open in the UK



New guidance has been released by the professional bodies in the UK for hearing care professionals. It means that many clinics are beginning to re-open and offer services. They will be doing so in a very different way than normal in an effort to keep you and their staff safe. We found one excellent example of this in Lanarkshire Hearing Centre who offer hearing aids and earwax removal in Hamilton, Scotland. Steven Ross, (owner), has taken the guidelines and designed strict processes around them to minimise the risk of infection and cross-infection in his clinic. Here is what you need to know, and it is a good example of what to expect in other clinics across the UK and probably Ireland when we re-open here. 

Kanarkshire Hearing Centre, Hamilton

Remote if Possible, Face to Face Only When Necessary

The first and most important consideration is that they will meet any need remotely that can be met in a remote manner. Face to face appointments will only be offered where that is an established need. This type of practice ensures that they can meet your needs with the least risk where possible. Of course, there will be needs that can't be met in this manner such as ear wax removal. Because of the nature of the virus and its effects, hearing care professionals need to work on the basis that everyone is infected whether they are, or not. In this way, they take all the precautions they need to keep people safe. 

Ear Wax Removal Process

When offering ear wax removal, Lanarkshire Hearing Centre will provide you with clear instructions about the new processes beforehand. An ear wax removal appointment will be a one-hour appointment in their diary. This will allow the time after the appointment to completely disinfect the room and equipment. Because ear wax removal could be an aerosol-generating procedure, (explained later), extra precautions need to be taken. Steven Ross has set out the following process which will ensure that you and he are as safe as possible from infection or cross-infection:

An email will be sent to the Prospective Customer outlining the process for moving forward. Where possible they will take payment in advance. The email will read as follows:

Dear Patient,

Thank you for contacting Lanarkshire Hearing Centre about ear wax removal. As discussed on your call to us you agree to adhere to the following guidelines -

By accepting your appointment you have agreed to the best of your knowledge -

  • You or anyone in your household does not have coronavirus
  • You do not have a new, continuous cough
  • You do not have a high temperature (37.8oC or over)? 
  • No one in your household has a new, continuous cough or a high temperature
  • You are not deemed a high-risk patient by your GP or the government should you contract the disease 

By providing this information at the time of your call we have agreed to provide you with an appointment. If we suspect that this information is not a true reflection of your condition we reserve the right to refuse the appointment for your safety and ours. 

What you have to do -

  1. Turn up at the allotted and agreed time not early & certainly not late. If early wait outside until you are called into the clinic. There is parking right outside our clinics and no wardens are operating at present.
  2.  Appointments will be spaced 1 hr between each (normally it's 30 mins) The extra time gives us an opportunity to thoroughly disinfect the premises.
  3. All payments will be given before the appointment via our text payment app or by cash being placed into a secure box.
  4. When entering the premises please open the door with your elbow.
  5. Once on the premises please refrain from touching anything.
  6.  You will be given hand sanitiser to thoroughly clean your hands. You will also be given a fresh face mask.
  7. Do not cough or sneeze. If for some reason you need to cough, or sneeze warn the audiologist immediately or put your mouth into your sleeve if a warning is not possible.
  8. Follow the instructions of the audiologist and please indicate if you do not understand anything.
  9. Refrain from speaking during the appointment unless its related to the procedure particularly if you are within 2m of the audiologist
  10. When leaving please wash your hands again & refrain from touching anything where possible.

Points to note -

  • 1) We will not see anyone same day any longer they must put oil in for a day and reply with the consent form before we will see them. 
  • 2) We avoid cash and chip and pin by getting the customer to pay beforehand if possible. We use Izettle which texts customers with an invoice that they can then easily pay through their phone.
  • 3) There will only be 2 people in the clinic at any one time - Myself and the customer the only exception is if someone comes with a member of the family from the same household. 
  • 4) We have removed all seating from the clinic and created a barrier at the door. We have only 2 seats, the one the customer sits on is metal and leather barbers chair for ear wax removal. It's very easy to clean. 
  • 5) Every ear wax appointment is 1 hr and hearing tests will be 2hrs to give us ample time to disinfect everything  
  • 6) We accept zero walk-ins and all appointments must be made by phone.

The process on arrival is as follows:

 
  • 1) The customer waits behind the barrier and we give them hand gel to clean hands
  • 2) We also give the customer a face mask if they don't have one which is donned in front of us. 
  • 3) We then bring the customer through to the clinic room, the aim will be that the only thing they will touch is the seat and nothing else.
  • 4) We explain the procedure from outside the room and verbally go through the consent form again. 
  • 4) Once the customer is ok with everything we don PPE, Mask FFP2, goggles, apron and gloves (Up until this point we have kept 2m apart)
  • 5) Carry out microsuction and once finished customer gets up uses hand gel and walks straight out
  • 6) Carry out safe sterilisation infection control and doffing of PPE as per NHS, BSHAA and BAA joint guidelines
 

While these processes may seem onerous, they really are designed to keep you and the staff of Lanarkshire Hearing Centre safe. I think these processes can be seen as the gold standard for ear wax removal at this time. So if you are looking for ear wax removal in Hamilton, you know you will be offered it in the safest possible manner at Lanarkshire Hearing Centre.

No matter where you are in the UK and Ireland, when accessing ear wax removal you should experience a similar process. It is the safest manner possible to provide the service.

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