Deaf Person Waiting

I’ve always had a problem with waiting rooms. For years I felt almost embarrassed to say “I’m not worried about the dentist… it’s the waiting room that gets me!” I can’t hear the receptionist’s questions or my name being called… I don’t even like the fact that the receptionist is in or so near to the waiting room, so that everybody else hears our loud conversation better than I do… and if I have to wait a long time, I worry that my name has already been called and I missed it. Just the sort of thing that sends my agoraphobia into overdrive…

There seems to be a vague assumption that the onus is on the staff to make sure I know when I’m called, and that it will all be sorted out by the end of the day… but this underestimates the embarrassment it can can cause, and how worried I get about it beforehand. That sort of anxiety will make me good for nothing during the actual consultation, and it could stop me seeking treatment.

My feeling is that it’s all so unnecessary, especially where audiology clinics are concerned. I’ve only once been in a waiting room that used some kind of visual prompt that it’s your turn… and that belonged to our old family GP back in Edinburgh, 25 years ago! (Why do things go backwards instead of forwards?)

I think there should be one good overall system in use for everybody, as otherwise you do get slip-ups where the nurse doesn’t realize the person in the waiting room is deaf, and goes out to call for that person anyway. Instructing staff “if you see from the notes that she’s deaf, do this other thing” is not enough.

If I had confidence that I’d be able to speak confidentially to the receptionist, and that I would know when it’s my turn to be seen, and that the staff won’t make a mistake and shout out my name anyway, I would be less anxious about visiting any GP, dentist or audiologist. (Or in fact any unit that uses waiting areas, whether medical or not!)

I knew it couldn’t just be me who felt that way. When I looked on the internet years ago, I found nothing of particular interest, but there seems to be a lot on the subject now. The following are a small selection of the links I found:

Dealing with Hearing Impaired Patients
Waiting rooms – the scourge of the hard of hearing
YOUTUBE VIDEO: Doctors Waiting Rooms
UK hospitals and GP surgeries are failing the deaf and hard of hearing

Sign Health: Why do you keep missing me? … a PDF you might want to Google for… I didn’t link to it as there’s a QuickLink available (long one!) Excerpt: “There are countless anecdotes about deaf people seeing their doctor, invariably receiving a poor service. But until now there have been no figures to support the arguments. This lack of data makes it difficult for deaf people to convince health providers that changes need to be made.” This is worth reading as it goes into a bit more detail… it talks about things that make me think “oh yes… I remember thinking that!”

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6 responses

  1. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t have vibrating pagers for those who couldn’t hear or see too well in the waiting rooms. Then they could just buzz people when it was their turn. I know I sometimes can’t hear them call me when they call me and I have no issues. Must be frustrating.

    1. Paging sounds a nice idea… knowing it’s your turn without any hoohah or kerfuffle, or sharing it with the rest of the waiting room. 🙂

  2. my doctors has a system where you book yourself in on the day without talking to anyone (well except for the initial booking) and you don’t get called there is a sign where your name flashes up

    1. I want to move there!!

  3. I just tell the receptionist that I can’t hear and to come get me .. sometimes I watch the doors and lipread them when they call out names..

    1. I do that when I have to. I remember a non-medical situation where the only staff in the room were the ones calling people (from behind counters)… they couldn’t come to get anyone. I had to ask a couple of other people who were sitting beside me to listen for my name. Fortunately I was called before them, otherwise I would have had to transfer my request to somebody else. 🙂

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