Michelle Gerrard is Calderdale Council’s Coordinator for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing services.
Michelle visited our January 2020 Open Meeting to talk about the services she offers. A video of her presentation is below and beneath that is an edited transcript.
Michelle began by explaining that she has a dual role helping people with hearing impairments.
Firstly, she assesses and provide equipment for people in their own homes or care homes, that are struggling to hear conversation, for example, or hear visitors come to the door. She advises them on equipment that can help them overcome these difficulties.
Secondly, she also has a role promoting the deaf and hard of hearing within our communities.
The Assessment Process
Michelle assesses individuals. She starts by visiting them, finds out what they are struggling with and then, based on that, she identifies the equipment they need. This is currently a free service (though this may change in the future).
There are a couple of pieces of equipment that are particularly helpful. The TV Listener, enables people with hearing impairments to hear a television without resorting to extremely high volumes, which can cause friction with other family members and neighbours. The TV Listener comes with a headset which allows you adjust the volume for your own needs. There is also a version that comes with a neck loop and works with the “T-setting” on some hearing aids. This is particularly useful for people with dexterity problems who don’t want to repeatedly remove their hearing aids.
There are also alerting portable baby alarms to support new parents with a hearing loss and also alerts for people who have an intercom system at home.
Another useful piece of equipment is an external microphone that again works with your hearing aid and extends the range of what you are hearing.
There are various versions of all this equipment, some very portable, some combining TV and microphone functionality etc. Because of budget restrictions, the Council can only provide a limited range of equipment. This is helpful in most cases, but Michelle can also advise individuals on other equipment that is also available.
Michelle often tests smoke alarms on visits to individuals and if they can’t hear them, she passes on a referral to the Fire Brigade, who will come round and fit vibrating fire alarms, which can be fitted to beds and also to a favourite chair, for example.
She also tests hearing loops in public buildings like those run by the council, plus banks and other similar venues. At the recent consultation into the new Halifax Bus Station, she represented the deaf community.
Michelle visits the Calderdale Deaf Association on the last Thursday of the month. There she provides support to any member of the Association who needs it.
Michelle also provides support for people going through the “Access to work” system (see separate report on this service).
The Referral Process
To access Calderdale Council’s Deaf & Hard of Hearing support services, you need to ring or text “Gateway to Care” and Michelle will arrange to come to see them.
Gateway to Care Contact details:
Tel: 01422 393000
NGT: 18001 01422 392318
Web: Gateway to care
The textphone is also available for any social care calls. Michelle recommends that the quickest way to access support it to visit the Glenholme Resource Centre, where she is based and where there’s a monthly drop-in.
Glenholme Resource Centre
Calderdale Council’s Deaf & Hard of Hearing support services are based at the Glenholme Resource (94-96 Green Lane, West Vale, Halifax HX4 8DB). Michelle have a drop-in session on the second Tuesday of every month, 10am – 4pm, where anyone experiencing problems with their hearing can call in and get advice plus look at equipment that might help them.
If anyone has ANY equipment on loan and they would like it collecting, please contact Gateway to Care using the details above.