By Alexandra Soanes, ICCS Communications intern
Clients with Island Crisis Care Society are blessed to be able to have safe and secure shelter, food and care. Yet at times, having access to another service or support – something as simple as a haircut or as powerful as a hearing or eye exam – can lead to life changing results. The look in the eyes of program clients when they can see clearly for the first time in years, hear music again, or smile with a repaired and full set of teeth is powerful, and can give them a new hope for a transformed future.
The story below tells of one of these supports – hearing tests for clients leading in some cases to life changing support for hearing aids, and access to a long forgotten world of sound. Jeff Campbell of Ears to You approached ICCS in early 2021 with an offer of going to all of its programs to provide hearing tests for interested clients and staff. In addition, Jeff promised to donate $50 for every person he attended, and worked for many long nights following each test helping to support clients who needed hearing devices to access them. For some, this care made a world of difference.
Hearing and Ear Care – Making a difference
Jeff Campbell is an audiologist with Ears to You, offering mobile hearing and ear services. Jeff is innovative and enthusiastic in finding strategies that deliver hearing and ear care to people who may not have access to the typical “brick and mortar” office. He noted that providing mobile service and getting out of the office “as a professional—is much more freeing”. More so, it fills a need where people might not have access to hearing care for a variety of reason such as: remote location, no vehicle/ driver’s license, or lack of ability to take traditional transit.
Jeff provides hearing services from a disability accessible van which he parks just outside of ICCS locations making easy access for residents who want to drop in. Coming to ICCS program sites and similar locations is crucial for accessing populations who do not have the confidence and ability to access traditional services. Jeff states that “when you have hearing loss, you’re very socially secluded, and you don’t function as well in social situations—even one-on-one situations when people are trying to talk to you, and that can really play havoc on your mental psyche.” It can quickly become a downward spiral if someone is feeling socially excluded and unconfident because of a hearing issue, yet they are required to navigate social situations and get themselves to an external location for hearing help. Having mobile service accessible and just outside your door, makes it much easier to address the issue.
Aside from assessing hearing, Jeff also can identify other ear issues that need medical attention such as “tumors, growths, and infections that go unnoticed, or at least mis-diagnosed for a long time.” Left untreated, these issues “would probably go to the point of causing major permanent, or irreversible damage”, so early intervention is key. If Jeff and his team were not doing flexible and mobile services, many of these people would remain without ear care. Early treatment and prevention then becomes much less of a reality for marginalized or access challenged groups.
A number one priority for Jeff and his team is providing accessible care “which then might be what allows them [ICCS residents] to go down the path of kicking addiction or go down the path of becoming employable if they weren’t previously, or at least be able to hold down a job because of their communication being better”. This is because “addiction and mental health issues can exacerbate or be exacerbated by an inability to hear, and vice versa. They play off one another.” When Jeff is “going in and […] identifying someone with hearing loss” and is able to help someone which is often times the case, “it might give them just an edge”. This brings a whole new level of fulfillment to a care provider who makes such a profound difference in someone’s life and this gratification is in-part what motivates Jeff and his team to continue providing care for ICCS clients.
Jeffs experience is that “the ICCS staff and outreach are exceptional at providing routes for financial accessibility” when someone needs hearing devices or follow up care. ICCS staff work tirelessly to provide for residents, and they are skilled in many areas but specialty care such as ear health, dental, eye health, etc, are needs that cannot be met by staff alone. Community collaboration is needed to fully provide wrap around care for people who are in desperate need of these services. ICCS is continually seeking partnership with care providers to meet the needs of residents and to engage community collaboration so that momentous impact can be made.
Jeff “always like(s) to reiterate the positive impact that ICSS has had for many of these people that are struggling with day-to-day life. To have partnered with them to help the individuals, we’re just trying to make a difference in their lives, because the need is there.”
Jeff and his Ears to You team still come regularly to visit and help clients in ICCS programs. For more information on Ears to You and the work he does, go to: https://www.earstoyou.ca/
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you provide a specific care service and are looking to collaborate with ICCS to reach those in need.