Grantham’s hearing impaired feel isolated after aid cuts

From left, Sue Clement and Betty Lang.
From left, Sue Clement and Betty Lang.
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Members of the deaf and hard of hearing community have said a lack of information on funding cuts for vital equipment has added to their feeling of isolation.

As part of cost-cutting measures Lincolnshire County Council is no longer providing funding for a variety of aids through The Sensory Impairment Lincolnshire County Service (SILCS).

However 79-year-old Betty Lang only discovered the changes when she arrived at SILC’s offices in Lincoln with a broken microphone box and hearing loop which she relies upon to communicate.

Instead of receiving a replacement Ms Lang, who has been profoundly deaf since contracting Ménière’s disease aged 35, was given a catalogue to purchase the aid, which she afterwards discovered to be out-of-date.

“I don’t mind having to pay for it,” added Ms Lang, “But it is the lack of communication which, of course, I find hard already.”

The news came as a surprise not only to Ms Lang, but to other regular members of the Grantham Hard of Hearing Club when she told them.

Outraged on learning of the change, Sue Clement, 56, who is also hearing impaired and runs the club said: “No-one was informed, and Betty had to go backwards and forwards to find out.”

“Hearing loss is very isolating, and this has made things worse,” Miss Clement added.

However LCC have contested that users of the service were left uninformed, with Head of Service for Adult Care Richard Collins stating: “Due to the well-publicised and increasing financial restraints, the county council is always looking at how we offer the most cost-effective ways to provide services.

“We recently examined our equipment and Sensory Impairment contracts and found that provision of equipment to people without eligible social care needs was not managed in the most effective way. Most of this equipment is now available from high street retailers and, as a result, we decided to signpost people to the most appropriate way of receiving equipment that may help them.

“However, while it is correct that some people may have to pay a small amount, many will still receive equipment or support through existing services. If anyone needs help or advice regarding Sensory Impairment equipment, they can continue to contact SILCS for appropriate assistance.”

Miss Clement is also looking into the idea of recycling equipment, and has suggested anyone with aids they no longer need can bring them to the Hard of Hearing club, where support is available at their weekly Monday meetings, excluding bank holidays, between 11am-12pm at the Avenue Hotel on Avenue Road.