Budget 2021: More adults to gain access to sound through cochlear implant technology
The team at The Hearing House celebrates the Government's announcement of increased funding for adults who need cochlear implants.
The Hearing House CEO Dr Claire Green says: "It is fantastic news for people of New Zealand who struggle under the burden of significant hearing loss."
"Access to sound through technologies and rehabilitation can result in a richer and fuller quality of life. Every day we see the positive outcomes of cochlear implants and the work we do. Our clients benefit from improved relationships, and an increase in their physical and mental wellbeing," she says.
In today’s Budget an extra $28 million will be injected into adult cochlear implant programmes over four years beginning in 2021/22. This almost doubles the number of people across the country receiving cochlear implants from 86 to 166 per year.
Claire says The Hearing House is grateful for the work that has been done advocating the need for more adult cochlear implant funding.
"There are people on our waiting lists who have waited years for a cochlear implant. Today's announcement should give many of our waiting recipients a real sense of hope that they will access sound again."
Dr Amanda Kvalsvig is an infectious disease epidemiologist working on the country’s Covid-19 response. She is also profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant – without it, she could not do her job.
“Having people wait for a cochlear implant for years and years is a terrible waste of human potential. There are so many of us who have so much to give,” says Amanda.
“I don’t think many people understand the impact of losing your hearing on your sense of belonging, your sense of purpose, even your sense of identity. It’s not just interactions with strangers of course – it’s your own family. I had no idea what my children’s voices sounded like.”
Until this budget, the baseline funding available was for 40 adults nationally. In February, the Government injected $6 million in a one-off payment towards the New Zealand cochlear implant programme.
The Hearing House Clinical Director Holly Teagle says: "Those funds have allowed us to give 35 more people on our programme access to sound again - and the improved quality of life that comes with this."
Claire, Holly and The Hearing House team welcome today's announcement, which confirms Labour's pre-election manifesto commitment to double the number of cochlear implants each year from 80 to 160 during this parliamentary term.
"It is a positive acknowledgement of the value of the cochlear implant programme in New Zealand. We look forward to giving more adults access to sound through cochlear implant technology," Claire says.
About The Hearing House
The Hearing House is the cochlear implant provider caring for adults and children across the upper North Island, north of Taupō. The Southern Cochlear Implant Programme (SCIP) cares for patients south of Taupō.
We are a charitable organisation, funded in-part by the Ministry of Health via the Northern Cochlear Implant Programme, providing public cochlear implant services to children and adults.
Through our passionate and dedicated team of audiologists, specialised therapists, and support staff we deliver a range of services and programmes helping people and their wider whanāu at various stages of their journey to hearing.
Our team's work includes performing all cochlear implant assessments, arranging surgery, activating the cochlear implant, administering adjustments and providing post-implant rehabilitation services throughout a recipient's lifetime.
The facts about cochlear implants
• A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that restores hearing for those with profound hearing loss.
• Cochlear implants in New Zealand are not covered by health insurance.
• Five referrals are received for every funded adult cochlear implant, and only 20 percent of patients are in a position to self fund.
• Most people on the waiting list were not born deaf but have lost their hearing as adults. The onset of total and permanent deafness can happen to anyone at any point.
• Hearing aids become ineffective when the hearing loss is more than severe. Communication through spoken language becomes impossible. A cochlear implant is the last and only viable treatment that will restore hearing.