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Homepage / Business / Hearing Loss: How to buy hearing aids that are right for you
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Hearing Loss: How to buy hearing aids that are right for you

Then before buying check your contract about any deposit, full payment and options if things don’t work out. This part of the process often involves home visits. Good mobility aid companies suggest customers have another person with them. Ensure you do such as a relative or carer.

Key facts to know or ask before you proceed:

Can you have a trial?

How does payment work? Is a deposit taken first – pay this by bank or credit card for extra protection?

Will you get your deposit refunded if the hearing aids don’t feel right for you?

What cancellation rights do you have – get them spelled out very clearly including times in which to cancel?

At what stage of the fitting process will full payment be taken?

Get full details of the company who is selling you the product so you know how to reach them if things go wrong.

Read the contract before you sign, check anything you don’t understand, take your time and ensure you keep a copy. Obtain this on the spot, do not agree just to have it sent to you. 

Crusader has teamed up with the Action on Hearing Loss charity and its audiology specialist Francesca Oliver, to produce this guide to help you get the ones right for you.

Hearing aids not only provide you with an appropriate level of sound based on what you need, they improve speech clarity to allow you to communicate with people more easily. 

They also improve your wellbeing and quality of life by allowing you to socialise and avoid becoming isolated due to hearing loss. You shouldn’t have to concentrate on what people are saying as much so you’ll feel less tired. They may also help you hear the television and other alert sounds like the doorbell and telephone ring. 

Types of hearing aids 

  • All modern hearing aids (available through the NHS and privately) are digital, meaning they can be customised to different levels of hearing. 
  • There are a lots of styles but these can be broadly split into 2 categories, behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE).
    • BTE hearing aids have a receiver with microphones that sits behind the ear. This is attached to an earpiece that sits in the ear canal that delivers the sound into the ear.
    • The earpiece is attached in 3 different ways
      • By a clear flexible piece of tubing attached to a custom made ear mould
      • By a thin tube attached to a soft tip or dome (also known as an open fit)
      • By a thin wire attached to a tiny loudspeaker in a soft tip inside the ear (also known as receiver-in-the-ear or RITE)
    • Open fits/RITEs are not suitable for all levels of hearing loss and can sometimes be difficult to handle for those with dexterity problems.
    • Soft tips are not custom made so they might not fit every ear well. 
    • ITE hearing aids have the microphone built into the ear piece so it sits inside the ear canal and nothing goes behind the ear. These come in different sizes and strengths
  • The NHS generally only offers BTE hearing aids, however these are still modern, good quality and digital.

How does the process work if you are getting a hearing aid through the NHS? Who is eligible?

  • You would need to have an appointment with your GP for a referral to your local NHS Audiology service – anyone is eligible for a hearing assessment. 
  • Depending where you live your local NHS service could be at a hospital or on the high street, the service will be free wherever you choose to go.
  • The audiologist will then conduct a full hearing assessment and discuss the options with you, including hearing aids.
  • Audiologists will try to ensure the hearing aids are fitted to your individual needs so have a good chat with them about your concerns. 

What are the drawbacks and benefits of going this way? How much does it cost?

  • NHS hearing aids, batteries, tubing, ear moulds and appointments are all free of charge. 
  • Generally there is less choice available in the physical style of hearing aid but the quality is similar to hearing aids available privately. 
  • You may be surprised with how modern NHS hearing aids are now – many have extra features that can be found in private hearing aids such as:
    • mobile phones compatibility 
    • allowing the wearer to adjust the sound themselves 
    • connecting to other devices such as the television and landline phones.
  • If you are not happy with the hearing aids the audiologist will work with you to find the best solution, they want to help you hear well.

If you want to buy your own hearing aid, how does the process work?

  • There are different private hearing aid providers including high street brands – many offer a free hearing assessment and don’t require a referral from your GP. 
  • A hearing aid dispenser (a type of audiologist) would discuss the results, outlining the types of hearing aids available depending on hearing needs and budget 
  • Before making any decisions it’s a good idea to shop around:
    • Compare hearing aid models, prices, trial periods and after-care and always read the small print before signing. 
    • Make sure there’s a money-back guarantee so you can return them if you aren’t happy. 
    • Make sure you don’t spend your money on a model you could get for free on the NHS and that you aren’t paying for any unnecessary additional features. 
  • It’s also a good idea to check that they are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) which allows them to practice.

What are the drawbacks and benefits of going this way? How much does it cost?

  • There is a wide range of styles available depending on budget
  • Private hearing aids can come with a range of additional features such as remote care and remote adjustment (via video chat for example), and mobile phone compatibility – additional features will cost more.
  • A single private hearing aid ranges from around £500 – £3500. On average it is about £3000 for a pair of hearing aids. 
  • Replacement batteries, ear moulds & tubing and future appointments will incur additional charges
  • Unfortunately hearing aids don’t last forever and they will need to be replaced, you will need to pay again when they need replacing.
  • If you are not happy with the hearing aids the audiologist should work with you to find the best solution, they want to help you hear well. 

Where can you get more information?

  • The Action on Hearing Loss website has lots of useful resources and is a good place to start. 

Getting Hearing Aids: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/information-and-resources/publications/hearing-aids-and-cochlear-implants/getting-hearing-aids/  

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