The Hearing House, the Auckland-based charity that helps people who use cochlear implants to hear, is excited to see a founding vision take shape with the launch of a community hearing van in 2024.
The launch of the mobile service is an extension of The Hearing House’s outreach clinics and a nod to the ethos of Hearing House founder Sir Pat Moore.
More than 30 years ago, Sir Pat had a vision around transforming the healthcare needs of people by taking services out into the community, allowing families to seek treatment and advice nearer their homes. It was a vision he shared with fellow patron and Board Chair Phil Ryall and together they established the concept of mobile ear clinics.
Phil Ryall’s family trust, the Punchestown Trust, is one of the key funders of the new mobile service, along with Hearing House client Grace McKean, the Hugo Hugo Charitable Trust and the Lindsay Foundation.
The specially-adapted van will provide greater access to The Hearing House’s services, including assessments, screenings and consultations with audiologists and speech and language therapists, in an effort to better serve communities and raise greater awareness of the benefits of cochlear implants.
The Hearing House currently conducts around 100 outreach clinics in the regions it serves each year but is often restricted in its reach by lack of available outpatient space at hospitals and health clinics.
The Hearing House CEO Dr Claire Green says she hopes the visibility of the mobile clinic and its services will lead to improved services and better outcomes for kiritaki.
“We know that outreach is pivotal in our service delivery and having a mobile clinic means greater access and flexibility,” she says. “We can reach further into communities in some of the more under-served parts of the country, and meet kiritaki in a space that works for them.
“Importantly, we do know that there are people in our region who would benefit from cochlear implants, and we need to reach these people.
“Being out there and visible is a way to gain trust and understanding among an important target group, leading to improved health outcomes.”
The van will also tour schools and marae from Cape Reinga to Taupō as part of an education drive, and it’s also hoped to offer screening and assessment services at family festivals and concerts.