Clinic ‘learned to adapt quickly’

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Pleased to be open . . . Audiology South director and audiologist Anthony Rowcroft, of Dunedin, is pleased to welcome clients back to the Moray Pl practice. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Adapting quickly to the disruption caused by Covid-19 and providing emergency support for clients has been a major focus for Audiology South in Moray Pl.

Audiology South director and audiologist Anthony Rowcroft said delivering services for people with hearing issues was usually done face-to-face, so operations were “hugely disrupted” as a result of the Alert Level 4 and 3 rules.

“However, we learned to adapt quickly and focused on providing emergency support and keeping in regular contact with our clients, so they knew we hadn’t forgotten about them,” Mr Rowcroft said.

The privately-owned audiology practice, one of seven clinics across Otago and Southland, provides hearing tests, supply and fitting of hearing aids, custom hearing protection and help with tinnitus.

“While working from home, our audiologists kept in touch with clients and developed some good protocols for tele-care.

“At Level 3, we began working with suppliers on remote-care options for hearing aid users, and we now have the ability to remotely adjust and fine-tune hearing aids for people via phone apps,” he said.

A click-and-collect service for hearing aids, batteries and more was also in place, and the practice also offered a pick-up and drop-off service.

As a keen cyclist, Mr Rowcroft enjoyed the opportunity to make deliveries of batteries and consumables to letterboxes around town by bike during the lockdown period.

“Now at Level 2, we are open for face-to-face consultations, but we’re still offering tele-care and remote service for people who need it, or who perhaps are still not confident in venturing out,” he said.

Extra precautions were being taken at the clinic to keep clients safe, including spacing, cleaning and disinfecting touch points and wearing face masks in consultations.

“Behind the masks, everyone is still conscious of making people feel welcome and cared for.”

Aware that older clients might not feel comfortable leaving home, the Audiology South team was considering options such as a separate waiting area, or working with family members on a solution.

“Putting up with the isolating effects of hearing loss when you may already be more isolated shouldn’t be the answer.”