By Amanda Penkoks, Outreach Team Leader
We have rearranged the offices again, and we are back in the original Deaf Direct staff office on the car park side. There are two workstations set up for staff to use and a little one-to-one area for using with clients when confidentiality is needed, as Age UK share the reception space on this side of the building. The one-to-one area has been identified as a need recently as we are busy with the drop-in sessions.
The drop-in sessions have started to get quite busy. We are now open to the public from 10am – 1pm on a Wednesday; limited hours due to not having funding for information delivery. These sessions have slowly been getting busier; in recent weeks we have had a queue of 3 people whilst serving another. Clients mainly want to try the phones (Try Before You Buy service), talk about equipment and find out about more about Deaf Direct.
We are still hosting our two social groups – Chat and Share group for people with a hearing loss on the first Wednesday of the month and Deaf Bingo for BSL users on the second Wednesday of the month. We do still require volunteers for these groups to help set up, answer the door, welcome people and make tea! If you are able to help, please let Victoria Rees know, our Senior Customer Services Coordinator, as we are also open to the public at these times so it can be quite hectic for the staff member at the Centre! Outreach staff and I have been covering these groups and times when the Centre is open, but Sophie Holmes, our new Hereford Services Coordinator, will be taking on this role after a period of shadowing.
We still have two tenants at the Centre – Age UK on the same side as Deaf Direct and Shropshire County Training on the Training Room side.
This project started in April / May this year. Social Services gave us the funding and contract to deliver equipment for people living with a hearing loss across Herefordshire, previously delivered by a social worker. The project consists of Deaf Direct attending hearing aid clinics across the county, in Hereford, Bromyard, Leominster, Kington, Ross-on-Wye and Ledbury.
At the clinics we can see anything from 4 to 30 people in a two hour drop-in session; they can be really quite intense! The clinics are split between the Outreach staff on a rota basis. Firstly the client will see the audiologist for basic hearing aid repairs, tube replacements and batteries. Then we have a few moments with the client to introduce our services and find out what equipment they may need around the home, such as TV loops, flashing door bells, pager systems, amplified phones and signposting the client to the fire service if they need smoke detectors.
If the client needs equipment, we then take their details and coordinate home visits, arranging for Alex Gerrard (Senior Outreach Worker) to go out with his car full of equipment to their home. Alex will then visit them, carry out a thorough home assessment (signposting to other agencies or raising safeguarding reports if needed) and deliver equipment they require to help them live independently. Sometimes we have the odd frustration if someone cancels or does not like the look of the equipment, so they then need to go back on the waiting list until Alex is in the area again.
Behind the scenes I have been dealing with the home visit requests, enquiries and cancellations, attending the odd clinic, sending out letters and planning Alex’s diary.
In our recent staff team meeting we discussed how we can capture statistics for Hereford to try and achieve more funding to grow the services further; we are aware there is a huge demand out there. We have created a system to record and generate statistics, drafted documents for feedback forms at clinics and home visits, and drafted questions to ask at the clinics. A client may go through the process of: attending audiology clinic – home visit and assessment – attend the Centre to try phones – attend our social group – hopefully feel more independent. This will all be recorded under the client’s name on a spreadsheet and on our in-house database system.
Here are some approximate statistics since the project started. From May to early September, Alex will have visited around 60 homes across Herefordshire:
May – 9
In clinics May to August, we will have seen around 430 hard of hearing clients! All of them will have received Deaf Direct information packs, and those that we have managed to get the details from are now on the database! Making up packs has actually been quite a task on its own!
Thank you to the Outreach team for providing a high quality professional service and travelling around the county supporting the department. We couldn’t have kept the service going without you all!
If you would like any more information on the services of the Outreach team or our Centre in Hereford, please email Amanda Penkoks at AmandaPenkoks@deafdirect.org.uk.