Only someone that’s suffered partial or full loss of hearing can truly understand the impact it has on our lives.
A cochlear implant can help adults with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss, who derive minimal benefit from conventional hearing aids.
There are four steps involved in cochlear implantation.
Referral – Referrals are accepted from ENT Specialists, Audiologists, and Advisors.
Assessment – working out if a cochlear implant is right for you
Operation – fitting the cochlear implant
Switch on and rehabilitation – getting the implant working and then helping the wearer to use it well.
REFERRAL AND ASSESSMENT
Adults seeking access to a publicly funded cochlear implant must undergo a First Specialist Assessment (FSA) at the cochlear implant programme, at which time candidacy for a cochlear implant will be assessed. The FSA is done according to Ministry of Health guidelines.
CRITERIA FOR ASSESSMENT – ADULTS
The programme accepts referrals of adults over 19 years who:
* Have bilateral moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in the better hearing ear. Referrals for ski slope or reverse losses will also be considered.
* Derive no significant benefit from well-fitted hearing aids (Struggle to communicate without lip reading and find it hard to use the phone).
* Are New Zealand citizens or have permanent residence.
Referral can be made by an Audiologist, Audiometrist, ENT surgeon or GP. Clients can also self refer if required.
DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR A FUNDED COCHLEAR IMPLANT
Eligibility criteria for an assessment and eligibility for a publicly funded cochlear implant are different. After assessment, the clinical team at the cochlear implant programme will determine your eligibility for a publicly funded cochlear implant. Eligibility for publicly funded treatment is the same across New Zealand. Once a person is found to be eligible for funding their position on the funding list is set using a Clinical Priority Access Criteria (CPAC) tool which ranks people according to their relative need.
Clients who do not meet the level for public funding will be referred back to your local service provider with advice for management of their hearing loss. This may include a review of hearing aids, referral to a Hearing Therapist, the provision of assistive devices such as FM systems, and other community supports.
WHAT IF MY CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE?
Clients who are on the funding list and those who have not yet reached the level that they have been accepted on program may request a review if their circumstances change. A change in circumstances may include a significant change in hearing, greater difficulty at work, in education, or at home.
The time that people wait is dependent on their position on the funding list. For those with high needs funding may be available in the same year that they are placed on program. For those with lower needs funding will only be available if the individuals needs change or if additional funding is made available by the Ministry of Health. This may mean significant waits for some people.
Patients who are either ineligible for publicly funded services or who wish to avoid public waiting times are welcome to consider privately funded treatment at any time. Some people consider this once they are eligible and waiting for publicly funded treatment, while others do not want to wait until they become eligible.