Shropshire NHS and local charity team up on new online tinnitus support

Signal Charity are working alongside The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s audiology department to help every person with tinnitus in the county get the support they need during these challenging times.

Together, the organisations have formed new and novel ways to support people experiencing tinnitus across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. These new services use online video technology to provide tinnitus appointments, regular support groups, one-to-one volunteer support and expert information.

The first of these new services launched in March, when Signal began offering online support groups. Signal started to use the popular application Zoom to run Online Support Groups, Online Speaker Sessions and volunteer catch-ups as well as telephone calls, letters and email support between their volunteers and beneficiaries.

One of Signal’s Online Tinnitus Support Group attendees said “I find it really interested to find this [tinnitus group] arena to share my story and other people listen and learn something and [for me] to listen to others and learn.”

Signal Charity supports people with hearing loss, people who experience tinnitus and Profoundly Deaf British Sign Language users in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and sub-Saharan Africa.

Signal’s success is inspiring others volunteers to start their own online support groups throughout the UK. Project Coordinator Sarah will be giving a talk to British Tinnitus Association support group leaders from as far as Bradford and Derry, sharing ways in which they can promote their groups.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s audiology department plans to join Signal by providing online tinnitus appointments. This comes after a successful trial of Attend Anywhere video call technology to people experiencing tinnitus from the comfort of their own home.

Signal’s Project Coordinator, Sarah took part in the audiology trial of the new system. “I was impressed by the quality and it was a really positive experience. I had no problem seeing the video and hearing the audiologist, I would certainly be happy to recommend and use this system in the future.”

Vicky Sadler from Shropshire Audiology Services at the Trust commented:

“I was excited to be part of trying out video calls for tinnitus patients. During lockdown it’s been a different way of providing professional advice and it’s so much better to see a person’s face. Some people have been a bit nervous about trying it out on their laptop, iPad or smartphone, but once they realised how easy it is to join the video call they were delighted. As a clinician, I think it’s an innovative way forward and Audiology will be trying video calls in other areas such as hearing aid follow ups.”