Over 200 deaf and severely hearing-impaired adults are unable to receive hearing restoring implanted hearing aids due to lack of government funding.
In New Zealand funding is available for approximately 40 adults per year to have cochlear implant, yet there are over 200 who have been assessed as good candidates for achieving significant hearing improvement with a cochlear implant. Currently we can fund only 1 in 5 patients who have been assessed as needing a cochlear implant.
The Northern and Southern Cochlear Implant Programmes are forced to choose only those whose lives are most severely affected to receive the implants. It is heart breaking to watch those not able to access this surgery slowly disintegrate as their lives fall apart, especially as there is a great treatment option that makes an enormous difference.
Typically, a person with this degree of hearing loss understands less than one third of spoken words when using the most powerful hearing aids and in a good listening environment. Once there is competing noise they cannot follow conversation and telephone conversation is impossible. This severely impacts functionality in the workplace as well as at home.
Concentrating on listening and lip reading is both stressful and extremely tiring and interpersonal relationships suffer; leading to social isolation, loss of employment and often depression.