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Pasifika Festival offers chance to talk about hearing health with Hearing Therapy

With a host of music and cultural performances on offer, this year’s Pasifika Festival promises to put on a good show. But busy crowds, background noise and loud speakers can be a challenge for people who live with hearing impairments.

This year Hearing Therapy will be on hand at Pasifika Festival to give good advice about looking after your hearing health and managing the impact of hearing loss on daily life. See them on stand 404 in the not-for-profit section between Fiji and Niue.

Anne Greatbatch from Hearing Therapy says the festival is an exciting opportunity to get out in the Pasifika community and let people know about their free and independent service funded by the Ministry of Health.

The prevalence of hearing loss in Pasifika communities is the subject of a three-year study currently underway at the University of Auckland. The study, led by Dr Ravi Reddy, hopes to gain an understanding of Pasifika people’s perceptions and attitudes towards hearing loss and the things that influence their decisions around seeking help for it.

Greatbatch says the research will provide valuable insight into some of the barriers that prevent people from accessing the free support available from Hearing Therapy.

“It continues to be a challenge to increase service uptake by Pasifika, and the percentage of Pasifika people seen in the 16 years and over age group is lower than the percentage of that age group in the general population. That’s something we’d really like to see change.”

Even though Pasifika is a fun weekend full of food, family and entertainment, Greatbatch hopes people will take a few minutes to stop and have a chat about any concerns they have around hearing health.

“The impact of hearing loss can be huge. It can be frustrating and lead to feelings of isolation. It can affect family and work, and it can be stressful when you need to talk with people like doctors or other services if you have difficulty hearing.”

But Greatbatch says it doesn’t have to be this way. “We support people to manage all those kinds of situations when you need your hearing the most.”

Hearing Therapy provides free hearing tests to New Zealand adults. They also help people improve their communication skills and provide information about helpful devices like amplified telephones or smoke alarms for people with hearing loss.

“We don’t sell hearing aids but if your hearing test shows you could benefit from hearing aids we can give information about using them and what funding is available, and we can refer you to other health professionals if necessary.”

Greatbatch says Hearing Therapy isn’t just for people who have hearing loss. They also work with family and friends to help them communicate better with loved ones who have a hearing loss, and they provide information about hearing protection.

“Having a hearing test is especially important for anyone who works in a noisy environment or who experiences ringing in their ears – or tinnitus – after work or when they try to sleep. This can indicate that they’ve been exposed to too much noise during the day and they may need better hearing protection.”

Hearing Therapy is funded by the Ministry of Health to provide information and advice to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents aged 16 years and over. The Auckland Hearing Therapy team hold clinics in communities across Auckland. Call 0800 008 011 to book a free appointment or visit hearingtherapy.co.nz to learn more.

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