When Tony picked up new hearing aids for his elderly mum, he had not anticipated the difference they would make to their life in lockdown.
Tony lives in Brighton but just before lockdown he had moved to Lincolnshire to look after his 85-year-old mum, Eileen, who had just returned home from a hospital stay. Eileen had been using a single hearing aid for a number of years, but it was not working very well. She had asked Tony to help get a replacement and he made an appointment at the Specsavers store in Sleaford.
Tony says Specsavers were incredibly helpful, and together, they picked out Specsavers’ advance hearing aids for Eileen.
‘Unfortunately, my mum has limited mobility and required treatment so before we were due to collect the hearing aids she was admitted to hospital. Around the same time, the country was about to go into lockdown due to the pandemic. I didn’t know what was going to happen when she returned home so I moved up to Lincolnshire to be able to help her.’
On the day that Tony had been due to pick up the hearing aids, Specsavers was having to take the unprecedented step of closing the store for essential care only. Thankfully, the team contacted Tony to arrange getting the hearing aids to him urgently and he was able to agree a time to collect them.
Tony said: ‘Mum came out of hospital 10 days later, she couldn’t really hear me very well and the TV was on loud enough that it felt like it could have perforated my ear drums! Given everything that was going on I’d completely forgotten about the new hearing aids until the second day she was home. She put them in and turned them on, suddenly I went from raising my voice to having a normal conversation. That evening she was even turning the TV down to the point where I was asking her to turn it up a bit because I couldn’t hear it!
‘It’s made such a huge difference for both of us, we can communicate better and no longer have to repeat ourselves or shout. Mum was even able to enjoy a socially distanced VE Day party in the garden and chat to her neighbours, something she couldn’t have done before. What’s really lovely is that because we can have a proper conversation now, I feel like I’ve been able to get to know her a bit better and she’s been able to share stories of the past, it’s just been really nice to talk. Mum’s new hearing aids have made all the difference to our life in lockdown and have made her feel a less isolated even though we have to stay at home. I’m really grateful to Specsavers for doing such a fantastic job for us.’
Andy Butler, audiologist at Specsavers in Sleaford, said: ‘I’m delighted that Eileen’s new hearing aids have made a big difference and enable her and Tony to communicate more easily. It was a normal process until lockdown started and while this made it difficult for us to see Eileen herself, it was imperative that we were able to explain and show Tony how to put the new hearing aids in and get them seated correctly. They’re very different to what Eileen had been used to, so we had to ensure they would be comfortable to wear and be programmed properly so sounds wouldn’t be too loud. Based on the results of her hearing test, I set them at 75% as 100% volume would likely have been unpleasant when you’ve been used to hearing very little. I’m looking forward to seeing Tony and Eileen for a check-up when it’s possible.’
Specsavers stores in England are now reopen for routine testing. To help manage social distancing, stores are encouraging customers to book an appointment in advance by phone or online via specsavers.co.uk. New hygiene and personal protection measures include restrictions on the number of customers allowed in store at any one time, strict social distancing rules and, where possible, card instead of cash payments.
In line with NHS guidance, Specsavers colleagues will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and all testing equipment and frames will be thoroughly sanitised after each use.
Specsavers has also introduced a new in-store role to reassure customers who may feel apprehensive about visiting the opticians after lockdown. The Customer Care Guide will greet customers on arrival and assist them through the new testing process, providing reassurance and answering any questions.
Customers unable to attend a store can still access care and support through Specsavers RemoteCare video and telephone consultation service, and Specsavers Ask The Expert Facebook group, while glasses and contact lenses can be bought online with a current prescription at specsavers.co.uk.