Research and Development at the North Wales Audiology Service, BCUHB
The Audiology Service in BCUHB is well known across the UK Audiology profession for our innovation and service improvement. Individuals working in the service have been involved in many of the advancements in the Audiology profession over the last few decades, and indeed have led on key developments. We also regularly share findings with the Audiology community nationally and internationally, and example publications are noted here.
All of our developments are grounded in clinical need, that is in the need of people with hearing, tinnitus and balance disorders across North Wales and wider. Likewise, our research interests are primarily studies that can be directly applied to clinical practice, whilst supporting and working with academic colleagues in translational or underpinning science.
Some example projects are outlined below, ranging from historic projects to some still underway. In more recent years, the teams in the service here have developed a new outcome score and have evaluated and put into place a number of innovative service models. We regularly share these developments with the Audiology community, such as through the British Society of Audiology and British Academy of Audiology, and on online resources such as Sound Practice and BSA Online.
If you are interested in working with the North Wales Audiology Service on research or development opportunities, please contact us via the department email addresses. We welcome all forms of collaboration and are always keen to discuss new ideas.
Examples of past and current projects:
Publishing Protocols for Testing Children
Audiology Clinical Scientists working with children in North Wales were instrumental in evaluating and developing some of the early protocols for assessment of children’s hearing.
Research has continued through projects undertaken by students studying for their Scientist Training Programme.
Developments in Adult Rehabilitation
Clinicians have been engaged in developments in hearing aid evaluation and technology, both in modernising hearing aid services in Wales and in collaborative research projects. It is essential though that quality technology is but a single part of a holistic quality rehabilitation service; the importance of service quality was championed and the service has played a key part in the development of quality standards and guidance.
This continues today, with research ongoing into remote programming of hearing aids. The service has also received national research funding to study hearing aid use for those with tinnitus and mild hearing loss
Audiology is not a discipline that exists in isolation. We work closely with our colleagues in ENT, physiotherapy, memory assessment services and more, including offering cochlear implantation and bone anchored hearing aids. We also work closely with voluntary sector organisations and hearing loss/deaf champions within Wales and the UK. These relationships have been extended to working on research and development to improve both the evidence base and the services offered.
An Outcome Score fit for Clinical Practice
The Individual Management Plan Outcome Score (IMP-OS) has been developed and validated by our Adult Rehabilitation and Balance team, and the score is now available for use. A framework is being created for audiology adult rehabilitation services, enabling the tool to be used to both promote patient centred rehabilitation and also gather patient centred outcomes for service evaluation.
Innovative service models
In response to patient need, service pressures and national priorities, the Audiology Service has pushed forwards with innovation and improvement. This was commended nationally in 2018 when the Primary Care Audiology team won the NHS Wales Award for Developing A Flexible And Sustainable Workforce.
Dementia and hearing loss
A particular interest of the service is in meeting the needs of adults living with dementia. In 2018, a Health and Social Care Research Wales Clinical Research Time Award was received by Sarah Bent to investigate the hearing experience of those living with dementia. In 2021, the service successfully supported the inclusion of hearing considerations in the Welsh Government Dementia Standards.