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Managing dementia with hearing loss in care homes

ORCHARD stands for ‘optimising hearing-related communication for care home residents with dementia’. The study looks at the problems that many residents in care homes have with hearing loss, dementia and often both conditions.

Orchard team

The ORCHARD study team

Managing dementia with hearing loss in care homes is complex. Hearing tests can be difficult to perform. Care homes are often noisy, making communication harder for someone with poor hearing. Residents and care staff often have different backgrounds, sometimes neither speaks English as their first language. Hearing aids are often supplied, but problems can arise in using them. Staff may lack skills and knowledge about hearing, and therefore feel that it is unimportant whether the aid is being worn or not. Hearing aids go missing, which can upset relatives.

This topic is neglected by research and we do not know the best ways to improve hearing-related communication in this population. The study will address the questions of what works, how, why, to what extent, for whom and in what circumstances, to manage hearing loss in people with dementia in care homes.

Research funding(s): It is funded by the National Institute of Health Research

Lead researcher(s): Tom Dening, Professor of Dementia Research

Progress to date: A team is being established including experts in audiology and dementia care. Recruitment to the study will include a group of practitioners, care staff and the public, who have professional or personal experience in this area.

Timescales: The study is due to run for 15 months from April 2017.

Study team:

The Orchard team are multi-disciplinary and will bring a wide range of expertise to the study.

Professor Tom Dening - Professor of Dementia Research, expertise in old age psychiatry

Dr Melanie Ferguson - Honorary Associate Professor, consultant clinical scientist audiology

Dr Geoff Wong - GP and expert in the realist synthesis approach

Stevie Vanhegan - Patient and Public Representative, lead for patient and public Involvement

Dr Dawn-Marie Walker - Associate Professor, expertise in qualitative research methods

Dr Brian Crosbie - Research Fellow, sociology of health and illness, and qualitative research