The South Eastern Trust Audiology department provides diagnostic and rehabilitation care to those with hearing difficulties and other audiological conditions, to both adult and paediatrics’ across the trust areas. For children’s audiology click here. We aim to provide a high quality patient centered care approach, which is flexible in meeting the needs of our patients and their families, using a range of digital hearing aid technology and therapeutic devices. Audiology services range from Newborn Hearing Screening to diagnostic paediatric testing through to Adult Direct Access Assessments and Tinnitus Management. We offer continuous support throughout the journey, striving to work in a transparent manner to our patients benefit.
Whilst we provide an Audiology- led service we also work as an integral part of the ENT Consultant-led clinics. We also work in close relation to Peripatetic teachers, Sensory Support, Voluntary sectors, Dual Impaired Practitioners and Microsuction Nurses. Different aspects of the service are delivered across our hospital sites including Ulster Hospital, Downe Hospital, Lagan Valley Hospital, Bangor Hospital and Ards Hospital.
Normal services have returned with reduced capacity. This allows for additional cleaning measures between each patient and to monitor the footfall of the entire building. We respectfully request patients arrive promptly and alone where possible. All patients and accompanying persons will be asked to wear a face covering/ mask and will be required to sanitise their hands on entering the room. All patients and accompanying persons will be asked Covid-19 screening questions. If you or any members of your household have been advised to self-isolate or display symptoms of Covid-19, you should contact the department and reschedule your appointment. Do not attend the hospital.
Adult Audiology Services
The South Eastern Trust Adult Audiology department offers a full diagnostic and rehabilitative auditory (hearing) service, providing:
- Specialist hearing tests
- Hearing aid service (including fitting, maintenance, battery supply and upgrades of hearing aids when required)
- Single Sided Deafness (SSD) clinics
- Specialist tinnitus and hearing therapy facilities
- Specialist Audiology Assessment Clinics for adults who have dual impairment and learning difficulties (Community based)
All our services, including hearing aid repairs, replacements, upgrades and battery supply are free of charge to South Eastern Trust NHS patients.
If you have concerns about your hearing, please book an appointment with your GP. Your GP may choose to refer you either to ENT to see a consultant or directly to our Audiology Services. Waiting lists and waiting times can vary. If your GP refers you directly to us, your GP can advise you of the current waiting list times at point of referral.
With your appointment letter you should receive a double-sided questionnaire, one referring to your medical history and one referring to your hearing difficulties. We advise you take some time to read over and think about the questions. Please complete the questionnaire before attending the appointment. If you did not receive a questionnaire please click here to download and print to bring with you to your appointment. Alternatively, please contact us on (028) 9056 1307 and we can post you one.
All hearing aids require a level of on-going maintenance every 6 months. Please refer to our maintenance resources for advice on specific hearing aid maintenance. Tubing on moulds needs to be replaced at least every 6 months, corda tubes every 5/6 months and domes on receivers every 5 months. This should be done regularly even if the hearing aid/s seems to be working fine. If you would like to learn how to maintain your hearing aids yourself please see the maintenance for instructions.
If you have any problems with the hearing aid/s:
- Please click here to refer to our troubleshooting and maintenance information first in case you can resolve the issue yourself.
- Post the hearing aid/s in to any of our sites in an envelope with your full name, D.O.B, address, contact telephone number and the problem with the hearing aid. Please ensure that you package the hearing aid securely (in a padded or jiffy bag) and pay the correct postage on the item to ensure safe delivery. There is no need to include a return envelope. We will repair the hearing aid as soon as possible and post it back to you. Please ensure that you inform us if your address has changed so that we can keep your details correct on our system. Our site addresses can be found in our contact us section.
- Book a digital repair appointment by contacting us on (028) 9056 1307
Please note we do not offer a walk-in service at any of our sites.
We are only able to service hearing aids provided by South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust Audiology Department and are unable to see any patient from other trusts or alternative providers.
A patient’s relative or representative is welcome to access these services on a patient’s behalf.
The hearing aids we offer
We offer a range of modern digital hearing aids. The models currently available on the NHS are a great improvement to those used in the past. They are smaller, neater and have advanced amplification capabilities.
In your assessment, the audiologist will consider your hearing loss, dexterity, vision, size and shape of your ear and advise you on the recommended hearing aid fitting. All of our hearing aids have the microphone located behind the ear for ease of long term maintenance.
Behind – the –ear (BTE) digital hearing aid with mould
BTE hearing aids are one of the easiest types of hearing aid to use and are suitable for most people with hearing loss. They are made up of a small metallic device that sits behind your ear that houses all the electronics of the hearing. This is attached with a tube to a custom-made ear mould that fits into your ear. This type of hearing aid may be recommended if you have a severe hearing loss and need a powerful hearing aid, or if you find the controls on smaller hearing aids difficult to use.
Behind – the –ear (BTE) digital hearing aid with an open fitting
The behind the ear hearing aid can also be connected to a thin corda tube and a soft tip that goes into the opening of your ear canal (an open fitting). The small fine tubes need to be cleaned regularly and require nimble fingers to do so. This type of fitting is not as tight as the custom ear moulds so can only be fitted to the mild to moderate hearing losses and to those patients who are confident handling the thin tube.
Receiver in the ear (RITE) hearing aids
We are delighted to be one of the few NHS sites in Northern Ireland offering RITEs. The main difference with RITE hearing aids is that instead of all the electronics of the hearing aid being behind the ear as with BTEs, the piece behind the ear in RITEs houses the microphone which connects to a thin wire to a tiny speaker placed inside the opening of the ear. This allows the piece behind the ear to be smaller and more discrete. The positioning of the speaker in the ear canal also allows the smaller hearing aid to provide more amplification required for moderate to severe hearing losses. However, having the speaker located in the ear canal makes it more prone to blockages and is not suitable for those who suffer from recurrent wax build-up or infections. The RITEs are cosmetically appealing but require a high level of independent self-maintenance and good dexterity to do so.
CROS/BiCROS Hearing aids
CROS stands for Contralateral Routing of signals. CROS hearing aids may be considered as a management option for patients who have no functional hearing in one ear. The hearing in the other ear may range from normal to significantly impaired. This can affect a person’s ability to pick up sound coming from the affected side, their ability to recognise where sounds are coming from and their ability to separate background noise from target sounds.
The first of these problems can be improved by use of a CROS (Contralateral Routing Of Sound) hearing aid which uses a transmitter worn on the bad ear to pick up sound coming from this direction and sends it to a receiver worn on the better hearing ear. If amplification is also required on the better hearing ear then the aid is known as BiCROS. As all the sound is still being received and processed by the better hearing ear only, difficulties with localisation and hearing in background noise remain.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting Resources
Lost Hearing Aids
Your hearing aid is provided free of charge on loan. It is yours for as long as you need it, but it remains the property of the NHS. Please look after your hearing aid/s. We will repair or replace hearing aid/s if required, free of charge. Changes to the hearing aid fitting may be advised to prevent the recurrence of lost aids. There may be a charge if a hearing aid is repeatedly damaged or lost through misuse or neglect.
If you are a patient of ours, we will post you batteries free of charge upon request. To send a request for batteries we require your full name and date of birth to ensure we can fulfil the request. You can send your request via:
MAIL- Audiology Department, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald. BT16 1RH
Please ensure that you inform us if your address has changed so that we can keep your details correct on our system.
Please note if you are posting your hearing aid in for remote care please ensure it is safely packaged and the correct postage has been paid to ensure safe delivery.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or the head that does not have an external source. Tinnitus is common, it can come and go or be continuous, it may be in both ears or just one. If tinnitus is deemed a threat your attention will focus on it and monitor the sound. The most common type of tinnitus sound is ringing, hissing, high pitch tone or roaring. Tinnitus is a symptom not a disease and is commonly accompanied by a hearing loss or noticed at a time of high stress or during a period of stress.
Services we offer
The Tinnitus management clinic at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, is an audiologist led service which accepts referrals from ENT and the audiology department. There are 3 main aspects to the effective management of tinnitus:
- Knowledge and understanding of tinnitus – what it is and why it behaves in the way that it does
- Management of Stress – tinnitus is very responsive to stress and tension. With the use of relaxation techniques you will be better able to resist tension and manage your thoughts which may be influencing how you feel.
- Devices – in the case of a hearing loss, this should be managed by use of appropriately verified hearing aids. In some cases where there is no hearing loss, the use of white noise generators may be used to facilitate the habituation process by decreasing the strength of the tinnitus signal.
Should you have any concerns regarding tinnitus please speak to your GP or visit one of the following websites:
- British Tinnitus Association
- Tinnitus Support Team
- Action on Hearing Loss
How to find us
You may be offered an appointment at any of our sites so be sure to confirm which site your appointment is at. This can be found on your appointment letter. If you do not have a letter and are unsure which site your appointment is on, please contact us – (028) 9056 1307
Patients who are unable to attend the department due to health and mobility reasons, can contact the GP who can arrange ambulance transport. If a patient is bedbound and not able to use this facility, the GP can make a referral for a home visit.
If you require an interpreter please contact our department and include the following details:
- Language (specify region if applicable)
- Sign language (specify BSL/ISL)
If you would prefer to use a specific interpreter for continuity please let us know, whilst we will endeavour to meet your request this may not always be possible.
Other useful agencies
Sensory Support Services: Lisburn (028) 9260 7746/ Downpatrick (028) 4461 6915/ Ards (028) 9151 0136/ Belfast (028) 9504 0200
British Tinnitus Association: Telephone 0800 018 0527 Website: www.tinnitus.org.uk
Hearing Link: Telephone: 0300 111 1113 Website: www.hearinglink.org/contactus
Action on Hearing Loss: Telephone: 0808 808 0123 Website: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk
You may also find the interactive multimedia videos from C2Hear online helpful.