13th July 2020
Helen has been profoundly deaf for many years since a childhood illness. Having worn previous generations of our ReSound ENZO hearing aids, Helen now shares her experience of being upgraded to ReSound ENZO Q hearing aids – from the comfort of her own home using ReSound Assist Live.
I have been severe to profoundly deaf since childhood illness impacted my hearing. I am now 61 and over the years been fitted with many hearing aids. Whilst thankful to the NHS for providing free audiology services and aids, my varied experiences were not always positive in my early and teenage years. The evolving technological improvements over the years, were sometimes challenging creating a love hate too. This was mainly due to discomfort with noise adjustments and the exhausting months of retraining my brain to new levels of sounds. However, since being introduced to ReSound this has all changed - to love and more love!
Too often it’s not fully understood by the general public that hearing aids are not a quick fix - that it’s not like putting glasses on! Not only do they need maintenance, frequent battery changes, (always carry spare batteries!) renewed tubing and ear moulds care, they also need a combination of fine tuning, meaning making time for multiple return visits to an audiologist. Plus, trying to find the words to define what sounds need to be adjusted, my own examples are… too tinny, too echoey, like being in a tunnel, a dull or squinty painful pitch… I would sigh and shrug, moving hands around trying to describe the noise and sound levels.
Growing up during the developments from clunky large aids which just amplified dull thudding (and often painful noise) to smaller analogue aids then onto digital aids, my brain has been through many episodes of exhausting retraining to accommodate new sounds. Having said that I consider myself fortunate to be living through this more recent rapid pace of improved digital and mobile devices enabling access to more refined sounds.
Most recent is the amazing development of smart digital super-power hearing aids - which means wireless/bluetooth activated hearing aids that are smartphone compatible. So with the use of an app downloaded to my iPhone I have seamless streaming direct to my aids. This also enables me to self-manage how I receive sounds within any given environment, and I can fine tune / adjust or fade out unwelcome background noises.
The opportunity to try out ReSound aids totally transformed my life. From the very first fitting of the ENZO models I walked away feeling lighter, younger even! I could only describe the refreshing clarity of sounds I was suddenly surrounded by, as textured layers of colour and as if my ears were clothed in soft purple velvet. I had never experienced such a liberating sense of being free and for once my brain was not overwhelmed with how to accommodate and adjust to a new sound level. Blew me away!
Which brings me to my current experience when I was offered the latest upgrade to ENZO Q. I naturally say yes to anything now as it’s no longer the dread of adjusting but an excitement of what more can be achieved. This was just at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and due to shielding protocols, I had no way of knowing how long I would need to wait to be fitted with them.
The surprise came when I was told that Katie, my audiologist, already held my settings in software which enabled her to programme the aids off site and then send them to me. Then, by using the remote assist function, I could communicate with Katie for any re-tuning! All done without leaving my home! I had such mixed emotions - of excitement and only a touch of anxiety - about whether I would be able to pair my new aids to my smart app plus my two devices (ReSound Multi Mic and TV Streamer) when previously this had been done by my audiologist on site.
After having a bit of a talk to myself on what I had already benefited from, I reminded myself that was another learning towards further independence and so to get a grip, after all, I know how to follow instructions! It’s a matter of adding another level to self-management, and tech enables self-care, which in turn builds confidence towards overcoming any fear of new technology. So, after my new aids arrived in the post, I downloaded the pairing and device guides from the ReSound website. Although the pairing set up guide has some screen shots, one suggestion I would feed back is for all guides to have a simple visual quick steps flow chart and next to each step, instructions and a screen shot. Mind you it was only after I completed everything that I discovered there are in fact a series of ’how to videos’ on the website to demonstrate what to do! We all have different ways of learning and an ‘easy read’ format would certainly help me.
With a great sense of achievement having completed pairing my new aids to my phone app (plus the devices all correctly linked), I emailed my audiologist, Katie to say I was all set and ready. We arranged a time that worked for us both and as the day got closer, the more excited I became thinking about all the possibilities that can now be achieved remotely and in real time. Katie made the call and wow; all was so easy and crystal clear and it was fabulous to see a friendly face once again!
During this pandemic, not having to wait until it is safe to travel out again is a bonus! Having this remote option actually increased the continuation of a personalised service. Travelling to appointments can take a day out of life. In contrast, remote assist took just 30 minutes, which was more than plenty for our session (which included having a general chat to catch up). It was lovely to see Katie on video who was checking all of my settings while we chatted, we also had the option of a live chat function which enabled us to communicate by typing in a text box.
I also see the benefit of this remote live assist for work environments. When hearing aids are traditionally set up in an audiology environment it is not until out in the real world that a need for finer tweaking becomes apparent. To arrange a session while at work enables hearing aid wearers to chat directly to audiologists to describe what and how they are experiencing different sounds. What’s needed can then be defined and the new settings can be adjusted right there and then. It’s about taking control and personalising and improving settings, rather than the hearing aids controlling us!
Could it get any better?! Well yes! There was one final gift to add to the amazing functions and solutions. We are in such challenging times with the wearing of face coverings and masks, my worst nightmare is not being able to see lips and facial clues. I was given the option to have a setting on the ReSound app to use when people’s mouths are covered as they have now developed a bespoke face mask programme to help people to hear more clearly in this ‘new normal’ The only tricky decision to make was which of the 4 programs to replace with the mask program. I decided to let the restaurant setting go for now as I am not exactly going to pubs and restaurants at the moment! One quick adjustment completed remotely by Katie and I’m sorted. Now to venture out once our time of shielding is over and try this out in the real world! This session just blew me away. I was lost for words and so happy life goes on!