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Ear Health Program

The Ear Health Program is funded by the Rural Health Division of the Department of Health to provide support and assistance to member services to implement and deliver a systems approach at the primary health care level ensuring adequate surveillance and monitoring of middle ear disease.

In 2012 a scoping study funded by the Country Health SA undertaken by the AHCSA Ear Health Program to determine current ear and hearing health practices being delivered within and/or in partnership with member services. The study found that no specific internal ear or hearing services were being provided and if they were, this was on an ad-hoc basis. The lack of staff knowledge on middle ear disease and equipment operation was also identified as a major obstacle to provide adequate ear and hearing health services.

The study had found there was a need to develop and implement a response to ensure Aboriginal children were screened for ear and hearing health at every opportunity.

Through an inclusive consultation process with various sources including staff of Member services and the South Australian Aboriginal Ear Health Reference Group (SAAEHRG), the Ear Health Program developed a systems approach, which incorporated key fundamentals, to ensure consistent ear health programs are being implemented within AHCSA Member services.

The Ear Health Program provides education and training to Member services to assist in the delivery and implementation of ear and hearing health services on the following topics:

  • Common types of middle ear disease
    • Anatomy and physiology of the ear
    • Risks and cause of middle ear disease
  • Equipment training to identify middle ear disease
    • Ear and Hearing Health Flowchart
    • Digital Otoscopy
    • Tympanometry
    • Audiometry
  • Communicare patient information systems data input
    • Ear Health Tab and Manual
    • Medical intervention as per ear and hearing health flowchart
  • Additional
    • Dissemination of ear and hearing resources, information, conferences, forums and seminars.
    • Advocacy and lobbying for ear and hearing health resources for member services

A recommendation from the scoping study and initiative of the Ear Health Program was the formation and initial coordination of the South Australian Aboriginal Ear Health Reference Group (SAAEHRG) in 2013. The SAAEHRG meets bi-monthly to share information and provide advice on issues relating to South Australian Aboriginal ear and hearing health. The SAAEHRG has actively sought representation from community controlled, government and private organisations with a diverse range of knowledge and expertise to ensure better ear and hearing health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

In December 2013, the inaugural South Australian Aboriginal Ear Hearing Health Workshop was coordinated by the Ear Health Project Officer. The workshop provided an opportunity for 25 participants from a range of organisations and locations to gain further knowledge and information on services and practices provided for ear and hearing health services within South Australia. Participants were also provided with equipment training and an opportunity to develop network.

For further information, please contact AHCSA Ear Health Project Officer, Garry Goldsmith at garry.goldsmith@ahcsa.org.au

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