Objectives: To explore interactions between audiology patients and volunteers, to describe encounters and define the role of volunteers. Methods: Qualitative ethnographic and interview study of volunteer-patient interactions. Ten volunteer participants from two volunteer schemes in South West England were observed and interviewed. Three patient participants were interviewed. Results: Analysis of observational data showed that volunteers provided support relating to local services and hearing aids, but did not engage in discussions about hearing loss. Interviews with volunteers identified gaps in audiology provision, including accessible services and clear information and highlighted a need for more support from audiology services to enable them to fulfil their role. Volunteer interactions with patients mimicked a clinician-patient encounter and volunteers employed strategies and behaviours used by professional audiologists. Conclusions: Audiology volunteers could provide an accessible bridge between health services and the community but their care is limited to focus on hearing aids. Practice implications: Volunteers enable patients to use hearing aids appropriately and are a core element of current care arrangements. However, volunteers express a need for adequate support from audiology services. Volunteers have the potential to increase service capacity and to bridge the gaps between community and audiology healthcare services.
Bibliographical note© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
- hearing aid
- hearing loss