Help and Support for people who are hard of hearing

This information is a guide to support available in Argyll and Bute for people with hearing impairments and includes some practical advice about managing a hearing loss.

There is a Social Worker for people with hearing impairments within the Sensory Impairment Team who will visit people at home to carry out an assessment and then advise on the best way to cope with their hearing loss. This may be in the provision of equipment or advice or useful information. Anyone can ask for a visit if they are having problems hearing.

The Sensory Impairment team is based at Ellis Lodge, 5 Argyll Road, Dunoon. PA23 8ES. The phone number is 01369 708484.

Practical ways of helping people who are hard of hearing

Hearing loss increases with age and significantly affects the majority of people over 75 years old. It is easy to underestimate the personal and practical problems that can result but there is a lot that can be done to help and it does not need to involve a specialist service.

Hearing loss is not always realised or admitted but is likely to exist if:

  • You have a difficulty hearing normal conversation, especially in a group of people
  • You have a problem hearing the doorbell, using the phone or hearing the TV.

Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is going to be present if a hearing aid has ever been provided, whether or not it is still being used. If there is a hearing aid, check that it is working and encourage its use.

Some of the main reasons that people stop using hearing aids are that they are faulty or the battery needs replacing or that people have not been supported when they first are fitted with an aid and have difficulty coping with it.

  • Check that the ear mould or tube is not blocked up with wax and turn the volume dial to maximum; if there is no whistling, it is likely the battery needs replacing
  • Hearing aids should be serviced regularly (every 6 – 12 months)
  • There are audiology clinics across Argyll and Bute and in the areas serving Bute and Cowal and Helensburgh which will repair hearing aids and provide free batteries.

If you have a hearing impairment and have not been seen by an Audiologist, you should ask your GP for a referral to have a hearing test. Hearing aids are now programmed for each individual to maximise the hearing you still possess. A hearing aid will also let you use other forms of technology which will help you to hear more easily.

Common difficulties experienced – what can be done to help.

Using the telephone.

Problem: Unable to hear it ring.

Solution: Increase the ringer volume on the phone - (BT will fit a louder bell for free for existing customers).

You can get a flashing light alert unit that is connected to the phone. They are available from a range of retail outlets or the Sensory Impairment Team may be available to provide a unit on loan. Contact the team for more information.

Problem: Unable to hear people properly on the phone.

Solution: Have a special phone with an amplifier. Alternatively, if you are a hearing aid user, switch to the T setting. You can make use of the inductive coupler (loop) in the receiver. You may need to change the phone if this is not fitted.

If you’re renting from BT, they will advise you.

The Sensory Impairment Team may be able to advise you. Please contact for more information. Alternatively, you can buy a new phone with an amplifier. 

Hearing someone at the front door.

Problem: Unable to hear the doorbell.

Solution: Buy a flashing light unit or different tone doorbell, or a wire-free bell (a portable sound unit that can be taken from room to room). The Sensory Impairment Team may be able to provide a unit on loan. Contact the Team for more information. 

Listening to television

Problem: Unable to hear and volume up so loud it affects the rest of the household (even neighbours).

Solution: Make use of an assisted listening device (E.g. TV amplifier or     loop system. You can buy these or the Sensory Impairment Team may be able to provide a unit on loan. Contact the Team for more information.

Get closer (it also helps people with sight loss).

Turn on subtitles – Ceefax number 888.

Problems with conversations

Problem: Communication difficulties, particular problems when in conversation with a group of people.

Solution: A loop system can be a great help to a hearing aid user. There are both fixed and portable systems available as well as devices for people without hearing aids. The Sensory Impairment Team may be able to provide a unit on loan. Contact the Team for more information.

Problem with alarms

Problem: Unable to hear smoke alarm at night and during the day.

Solution: A smoke alarm with a pad which vibrates under the pillow to alert in case of fire can help to keep people safe at night. During the day, another device which also vibrates can be attached to a belt to alert the person there may be a fire. These can be purchased or the Sensory Impairment Team may be able to provide a unit on loan. Contact the Team for more information.

Other assistance


Telecare is the provision of care and support using technology (see section on the web site for more detail). The Telecare system uses sensors around the home to monitor accidents and emergency situations and enable people to summon assistance. Equipment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing uses flashing beacons and vibrating alerts like the vibrating smoke alarms (see above). For information on how to access Telecare equipment, please see the Telecare web page.