Giving back the way forward for Louise
Ten years on from the cochlear implant that transformed her life, Louise is the Financial Controller of the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy and Board Member of Deaf ACT. Her journey to better hearing, however, started at the age of three.
Diagnosed at three
The youngest of four children, Louise Irvine was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of three after developing the measles. It’s still unclear whether Louise was born with hearing loss or it developed in her early years.
She relied on lipreading and then, after leaving school, was fitted with hearing aids. “This meant I missed out on conversations growing up” she said. “Being hard of hearing was isolating. There is a Deaf community but not a community for people who are hard of hearing”.
“I had no exposure to people with hearing loss until I left school” she said.
Personal and professional success
Louise’s retail working life became difficult as her hearing loss progressed. Louise and Rod started their own community pharmacy where she took on responsibility for the finances as a way to better cope with her hearing loss. In 2010 Louise became Finance Assistant at the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy.
With an interest in accounting and desire to progress her career, Louise enrolled in an Accounting Degree at the Australian National University, simultaneously working full-time and raising two children, Sam and Lucy. Not only that, but while Louise was studying, both children were navigating their final year of high school.
Deciding on a cochlear implant
Returning to university and progressing her career, in Louise’s words “would not have been possible without a cochlear implant”. As her level of hearing loss progressively increased, hearing aids were no longer enough. Searching for a solution, Louise explored the suitability of a cochlear implant.
“When I found out I was a successful candidate for a cochlear implant this actually made my situation harder because I had to make a decision” she said.
“After reading success stories and not wanting to delay getting a cochlear implant I decided to give it a go. In my mind it was my last chance to rediscover my hearing and I was committed to making it work”.
How Louise made her cochlear implant the best hearing solution
“When I received the implant, I wore it as much as possible” Louise said. “I used podcasts and audiobooks to develop my hearing because all I could hear was the words. This was an important moment. It opened up my world”. She now has a keen interest in wellness, healthy eating and exercise and actively watches and listens to videos and podcasts daily.
The best possible outcomes she experiences continue to transform her life.
RIDBC Audiologist Anne-Marie Crowe attributes the success Louise is experiencing to her commitment and dedication. “Louise is a great example of someone who has worked really hard on getting the best result from her cochlear implant” she said.
“She investigates the options available and has considered the recommendations and advice offered to her” Anne-Marie continues. “It is always a pleasure seeing Louise and it is nice to see her world open up after choosing to have an implant.”
Today, Louise wears a hearing aid to support the cochlear implant. She says that the bi-modal (hearing aid and cochlear implant) hearing solution is the right combination for her.
Although group situations can still pose a challenge, Louise’s confidence is high, especially as she can also utilise her old lipreading skills to help her out
Giving back to the community
Louise Irvine is the epitome of success. Her career is flourishing, she has a loving family and at every opportunity gives back to her Canberra community.
Louise has a passion to help others. “I now have the confidence to give back,” she says.
As a Deaf ACT Board member, Louise is interested in advocacy, mental health and sport. She believes people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind have a lack of mental health support which is something she is determined to change.
She hopes that by sharing her story, others who are experiencing progressive hearing loss will explore their hearing options, just as she did.
And that is her story.
A message from Associate Professor Catherine Birman
From the Medical Director
As I write to you, it is early May. Recently the NSW Department of Health has enabled elective surgeries to slowly restart in both public and private hospitals. This decision has been made based on the extremely low incidence of COVID-19 cases in the community and we are thrilled to begin surgeries again.
The last six weeks have seen our staff providing care and continuing services in the most agile and creative of ways. It is tremendous how well everyone in our organisation has rapidly adapted and coped with numerous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their incredible efforts.
It was only recently that we celebrated Hearing Awareness Week, with RIDBC participating in publicity about the impact of hearing loss, particularly on our senior citizens and the wonderful options available to improve hearing. It is great during these times to reflect on positive stories and look towards a brighter time when activities can resume fully.
In mid March I was invited to be a speaker at our National ENT conference. With one week notice the organisers cancelled the face to face aspect (incurring huge financial losses) and changed to make the conference a recorded program- with videoing of the slides and voice over. This will be available to ENT surgeons throughout Australia in May, and may herald a new way of learning for this new decade. This decision was to try to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus and was ahead of the government’s early recommendations on social isolating.
At SCIC/RIDBC more broadly we have always had a strong experience and led the way with tele-health/tele-practice: with early intervention over video link, mapping remotely and telemedicine. This experience is particularly useful now to ensure more people are staying at home and minimising the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Using remote mapping, therapy sessions and medical consults we are able to keep our recipients on the air with an optimised map; children can continue vital teaching of language skills; and help is still available if somewhat at a distance. The ingenuity of the organisation and staff in these difficult times, may well herald more options for patients in delivery of services going forward into this next decade. In these unprecedented times it is great to see the adaptive and constructive solutions everyone is coming up with. A huge thank you to our information technology team, who are rapidly setting up options for staff to work from home, ensuring we can connect with recipients and upskilling everyone on the new platforms for communication ensuring that we can stay in touch and provide help.
RIDBC is one of Australia’s oldest charities, founded in 1860, and so has operated through both wars, the Great Depression and the time of the Spanish Flu. This year RIDBC will celebrate 160 years of service to the community for people with hearing and vision loss. It is a wonderful platform upon which we stand of steady service and evolution with the times throughout many generations and periods of adversity. Into this next decade there is a great sense of excitement for continued service and innovation in how we deliver care for people with hearing and vision loss to provide the best outcomes for all.
Whilst these are such worrying times for our community the future is beginning to look brighter with more positive news each day. I wish you all safety and good health during this unpredicted pandemic.
A/Professor Catherine Birman
SCIC Cochlear Implant Program
A message from Director of Services Bart Cavalletto
Our response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
It’s certainly been trying times around the world, and here, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to evolve. To ensure you receive the latest updates from RIDBC about COVID-19, you can visit the RIDBC website: bit.ly/covidADV.
We are still here!
If you need assistance, please use the below details to call or email and our team will assist you. For your safety, and that of our staff, please only attend a centre if you have an appointment.
• Phone: 1300 581 391
• Email: email@example.com
As I write to you, we are in a more manageable stage of the challenging coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our focus throughout has been to support our clients, the broader community and each other.
Although this has been undoubtedly a troubling and difficult time, I have been heartened by the unwavering commitment of our staff and clients to support each other through this time. Please look after yourself and those closest to you during these uncertain times.
From a service perspective, we have been in contact with many of you over the past few weeks to determine the most appropriate way for us to support you.
We are now about to resume services, and over the next week our team will be in contact with you if you have an upcoming appointment. To keep you and our staff safe, things will look and feel a little different when you come to see us. While our troubleshooting and support service remains available, we ask you to call so we can assist you over the phone. As we navigate these uncertain times, let’s continue to support each other and ensure we can meet your needs.
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC)
Celebrating Hearing Awareness Week
Hearing Awareness Week
Did you know that 90% of adults with hearing loss who could benefit from a cochlear implant don’t have one?
To celebrate Hearing awareness week in March, RIDBC held free information sessions for those with hearing aids that are inadequate for their needs. During these information sessions attendees had the opportunity to learn about cochlear implants and hear directly from a cochlear implant recipient who has been on the same journey.
To register your interest for future events please visit https://ridbc.org.au/hearing-options
Important device information from Lyn and Sue
Keeping your cochlear implant on the air
If you’re eligible for the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, and you have a current Hearing Services Card, you can get replacement parts for your sound processor from Hearing Australia:
- Phone: 1800 131 339
- Visit hearing.com.au/CochlearImplantParts
Replacement parts are provided for your most recently fitted sound processor for each ear and are still available during this time. Some parts can be requested via Hearing Australia, while other parts must be ordered by your SCIC clinic.
Parts available through Hearing Australia online or phone support service:
- Coil and coil cables
- Disposable battery holders and covers
- Rechargeable batteries
- Microphone protectors
- Dry and store desiccant
- LiteWear cables, cases and fixing aids
- Retention devices for your sound processor
Some parts are available by special request from your SCIC Cochlear Implant Program clinic. These items need a special request because there are safety implications if the wrong part is supplied (magnets/hybrid receivers), and some are higher cost items. Contact your clinic for:
- Battery chargers
- Remote assistant
- Hybrid acoustic speakers (receivers) and maintenance parts
Contact your Hearing Australia Centre for disposable batteries, FM/Roger adaptors or Ear Gear if you need a retention device, or if you have problems with moisture (perspiration) entering your processor.
NDIS for clients over 26 and under 65 years
Once you have a NDIS plan you can apply for access to the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, which covers certain replacement parts, batteries and maintenance for your processor at no cost.
Register with the NDIS to develop a plan by:
- Phone: 1800 800 110
- TTY: 1800 555 677
- Speak and Listen: 1800 555 727
- Internet Relay: relayservice.gov.au and ask for 1800 800 110
For assistance navigating NDIS please contact the RIDBC NDIS team via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9872 0701.
Need help troubleshooting? Here are some links you might find useful:
- Getting started
- Pairing the N7 to an iPhone
- Pairing to a compatible Android device
- Setting up Nucleus Smart App
- Using the Nucleus Smart App
- Pairing N7 to a TV Streamer
- Pairing N7 to a Mini Mic
- Pairing N7 to a Cochlear Phone Clip
- How to stream audio from true wireless accessories such as mini mic or TV streamer
- Wearing Options and Retention devices
- Using Aqua + with N7
Cody shares his success
10 year old Cody Bodycott shares his recent successes as an SCIC cochlear implant program recipient.
“My name is Cody Bodycott. I was 1 & ½ years old when I got my cochlear implants. Earlier this year my left cochlear implant broke and I needed to go to hospital in Canberra to have a new one put in by Dr Tim Makeham. I have been helping my Audiologist Anne-Marie at SCIC Canberra to get it working comfortably for me.
On Saturday 5th October I went to the Culcairn show and won a prize for Best Show Boy (7 and under 11 years of age). I won the prize because I chose an occupation I want to be for the rest of my life (which is actually a Doctor) because I want to help people. If I don’t become a Doctor then I would like to become an Audiologist and Anne-Marie is very excited about that! The judges were Local Member Justin Clancy and Stephanie Clancy who was also the Land Sydney Royal Showgirl title winner. They asked me what subjects I like which are science, geography and history and I even had my photo taken for the Chronicle newspaper!”
Kerang Poker Run
Earlier this year, the Annual Charity Poker Run by KBar & Function Room set off from Kerang, with some impressive motorbikes on display.
The group brought with them an influx of visitors to surrounding towns and were able to raise some much needed funds for SCIC.