Early detection means early intervention
From our very beginning, we have vigorously promoted the early diagnosis of deafness in babies and preschool children as this enables them to benefit from effective technology and appropriate intervention as early as possible.
We now work in close partnership with the Audiology Department at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust to provide hearing screening and audiology services at our Family Centre in Hampshire for babies and children in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.
The importance of early detection
Early diagnosis is crucial for babies and toddlers with a profound or severe deafness.
With early diagnosis, these children can be fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants and can then receive appropriate intervention from an early age - ideally before six months of age. If deaf children are fitted with effective technology and take part in a well-designed early intervention programme, many can achieve age-appropriate speech and language by the time they are ready to start primary school.
Because The Elizabeth Foundation understands the value of early diagnosis and effective intervention, as soon as we were set up over 35 years ago we started campaigning for babies to be screened at birth for deafness. We are delighted that the national newborn hearing screening programme means that all babies now have their hearing routinely tested shortly after they are born.
Working in partnership
At our Family Centre, we have a unique and pioneering partnership with the Children Hearing Services Team at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust that operates NHS services for children from Portsmouth and the local area in our purpose-built Audiology Test Centre.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has one of the busiest children's audiology departments in the UK, screening over 12,000 babies every year. Most babies have their first screening test where they are born, but many arrive at the Audiology Test Centre for the first screening test, having missed it for one reason or another at the hospital.
If a child's initial screening test suggests that further investigation is necessary, they are referred to the experienced and specialist children's NHS audiologists housed in our Audiology Test Centre for more detail audiological tests. Most babies born with deafness are diagnosed between five and seven weeks old.
The Children Hearing Services Team also conducts tests on children during their preschool years, including children who have been referred to them at our Test Centre by their family doctor because of concerns about possible temporary or permanent deafness.
Providing a wrap-around service
From the moment a child is diagnosed with a permanent deafness by the NHS Children Hearing Services Team based in our Audiology Test Centre, they and their parents or carers are able to access The Elizabeth Foundation's experienced and expert support, alongside our wide range of services including specially designed baby, toddler and preschool intervention programmes.
Children aged up to 3 years of age diagnosed with a unilateral (one-sided) or conductive (temporary) hearing loss can access our monthly Listen Support Groups.
The services provided by the NHS in our Audiology Test Centre are only available through referral by a GP or other NHS provider.