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Helpful Aids for Hearing Loss

This blog is in two parts – the first part is a guest post by trained audiologist Melanie Lewis, the second part is some suggestions of our own:

Who does hearing loss affect?

Hearing impairment affects over 9 million individuals in the UK (source: RNID 2005 survey). The two most common reasons contributing to diminished hearing are age related (though slightly misleading as affects start in a person’s 40’s) and noise induced. In both cases, the level of hearing will not improve naturally and individuals depend on a growing number of sophisticated devices designed to overcome the hearing impairment using modern technology.


Hearing Loss Tech Gadget Ideas


What Goes Wrong Leading To Hearing Loss:

There are a number of organs and processes that must work to their potential in order for us to hear, see or smell. In the case of hearing, sound needs to be captured, then funneled to the brain where it is made into ‘tangible’ information that we can comprehend. Our inner ear includes tiny hair cells that are only visible under a microscope. These cells capture waves in the air (which we call ‘sound’) that are funneled via the hearing nerve to the brain. As the body matures, the quality and quantity of the hair cells is reduced leading to a challenging inability to hear certain sound frequencies. The hair cells can also become damaged (often more easily than people might believe) through exposure to harmful noise leading to noise induced hearing loss. The body is unable to repair or regrow the tiny hair cells so any management of hearing disability must depend on technological advances in science.

Digital Hearing Aids:

Image of the HD450 digital hearing aid

Today’s digital hearing aids are lighter, small and slimmer than ever before.

These digital amplification aids are available at no cost from the NHS and from private service providers offering digital hearing aids. Leading brands include Oticon, Phonak, Resound, Siemens, Starkey and Widex. The device is housed in a small lightweight plastic structure and sits inside or outside the wearer’s ear. It works by capturing waves in the air using a sensitive microphone that are then amplified using a powerful microchip. The amplified sound is transmitted directly into the ear using the receiver.

Differentiating factors between the various brands of digital hearing aids include size (with ‘discreet’ sizes normally commanding higher prices), wireless connection, Bluetooth connectivity and complexity of sound processing algorithms. While NHS hearing aids are free, model choice is limited and a waiting list may apply.

Amplified Phones:

Image of the Amplicon Big Tel 280 amplified telephone

Amplified cordless phones offer high quality, loud, distortion-free sound. They also offer a hands-free mode.

These are desk, cordless and mobile phones that have been specifically tailored for the hard of hearing. Leading brands include Doro, Geemarc and Amplicomms. The devices differ from normal phones in that they can amplify the ringer level often 10 times louder than that of a normal phone and amplify the voice of the caller to a suitable level. Differentiating factors between the various phones include caller voice amplification level, ringer volume in dB (can reach 60dB vs. 4 to 6dB on normal phones), telecoil compatibly to digital hearing aids, visual indicators and type of buttons (backlit, big button etc). Amplified phones are not usually available from the NHS, but can be bought at a reasonable price.





Alerting Devices:

Amplified doorbell

An amplified doorbell can help you hear when someone is at the door. Click the image for more information.

These aids are designed to attract the user’s attention to something that may have become inaudible and include amplified alarm clocks and amplified doorbells. They differ from normal alerting aids in their level of amplification that can reach 95dB and most importantly in the suite of other sensory triggers they offer. Devices will include visual indicators and often vibration pads that can be placed for example below the user’s pillow. Certainly in the case of most amplified doorbells, they are wireless so can be carried from room to room when the user moves around the home. Leading brands include Sonic Alert, Geemarc and Amplicomms and again, these are not usually available from the NHS.

In the case of profound hearing impairment and when ALDs (assistive listening devices featured above) are less effective, individuals will often supplement the management of their hearing loss with lip reading and British Sign Language.

If you or someone you know is concerned about their hearing ability, a visit to a local hearing centre is recommended. We hope you found this information of help.

Melanie Lewis is a trained hearing aid audiologist. She works for hearing direct, the UK’s biggest supplier deaf accessories from hearing aid batteries to personal amplification aids.

Other Hearing Aid Technology and Gadgetry

We’ve had a look around the market to find some other handy and innovative gadgets that may help if you suffer from hearing loss.

Our first interesting find was brought to our attention by a fellow Twitter user:

Apparently all digital wireless phones must now be hearing-aid compatible (HAC) and the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 feature built-in HAC making them easy to connect hearing aids to. The iPhone 5 has a HAC rating of M3, T4. The numbers next to each letter represent the compatibility ratings on a scale of 1 to 4.

The M rating is based on reduced radio-frequency interference that enables acoustic coupling with hearing aids that do not operate in telecoil mode.

The T rating is for inductive coupling with hearing aids operating in telecoil mode.

Vibrating Reminder Watches

Image of the Pivotell Vibrating reminder watch in a lilac purple flower design

Pivotell Vibrate Mini Reminder Watch in Purple Floral

There are quite a few vibrating reminder watches available on the market, in almost every colour and style you can think of. These watches are ideal for keeping track of daily tasks such as medication intervals, gym work outs or even for use when home cooking. This Pivotell Reminder Watch emits a discreet vibration that will alert the user but will not disturb those around them. You set set up to 12 different alarms and the vibration lasts for 5 seconds each time.




Vibrating and Light-Up Alarm Clocks

This funky looking alarm clock would be great for teenagers or young people. The stylish black finish and bright LED

Image of the Wake 'n' Shake digital alarm clock in black, with a large, easy-to-read red LED display

The Wake ‘n’ Shake alarm includes a vibration pad and can also be connect to your phone line.

screen would look great in a kid’s bedroom or in a student den! What makes the Wake ‘n’ Shake extraordinary is the vibrating pad that is attached to the clock.

By placing the pad under your pillow or next to you, the pad will vibrate when it’s time to get up – or for any other reason you decide to set the alarm. Not only this, but the Wake ‘n’ Shake can be connected directly to your home phone line, meaning you can be notified when somebody is ringing you.

Other useful features of the Wake ‘n’ Shake include a large, easy to read LED display, and the ability to also set the clock to alert you with a strobe light or an extra-loud 95dB alarm sound.


Image of the Lifemax under pillow vibrating alarm clock

This handy-sized vibrating alarm can be taken with you for travel or used at home.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more subtle than the Wake ‘n’ Shake, we’ve also found the  Lifemax 331 Under Pillow Vibration Alarm Clock. This handy devise is ideal for travel or at home, and simply slips under your pillow. The vibration is strong enough to wake you, but also perfect if you need to wake without waking anybody else in the house. The compact, lightweight design means you can take it anywhere with you, and as it runs on batteries there’s no need to find a power source.



Image of the Amplicomms wireless amplified headphone headset

These trendy headphones can provide sound up to 120dB.

Wireless Amplified Headphones

For those who love their music or want to amplify their TV or radio, these futuristic-looking headphones are the ideal solution. The Amplicomms TV150 Amplified Headset can wirelessly transmit stereo sound from almost any device you have around the home. Whether it be TV, DVD or MP3, this ergonomically designed headset fits snuggly in the ears and can transmit sound up to a massive 120dB. The powerful transmitter allows a range of up to 10 meters allowing you to freely move around the home, and they also include a built-in automatic volume control, which stops increases in noise such as TV adverts, from being too loud.


You may also enjoy a post on our other blog “Communication aids for deaf people”

If you have a favourite gadget or even something a little unusual that helps you, please let us know in the comments below.

Promove Slings – Peace of Mind while Travelling

Promove Slings – Peace of Mind while Wheelchair Travelling


To jump to prices – click here

Promove Slings don’t need a hoist! They have handles so that you can be lifted by a couple of willing people. The perfect solution for wheelchair users in many different environments to ensure a safe and easy transfer, especially when travelling. The product is the brainchild of Dr Huw Thomas, a wheelchair user who got tired of being manhandled when travelling by aeroplane and he developed the Promove Sling as the answer. Huw has since won the Sir Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011 which has helped Huw reach more people with his liberating invention.

Dr Huw pictured winning the Disabled Entrepreneur of the year award with Stelios and joint winner Rob from ActiveHands.

Dr Huw pictured winning the Disabled Entrepreneur of the year award with Stelios and joint winner Rob from ActiveHands.

Why use a hoist and sling?

As any wheelchair user knows, an awkward lift by untrained people can cause pulled muscles and aches and pains for weeks. In the worst cases, a fall from your chair and even broken bones. Transferring with a sling is much safer and comfortable for everybody. The difficulty comes when the hoist is broken, has run out of charge or you are somewhere where they simply don’t have one. Most people have experienced hospital appointments, holidays or travel abroad where they have wished that a hoist was available. Portable hoists are becoming smaller, but they are still bulky and heavy. The Promove sling is a portable and affordable option.

Carry a Manual Sling with you

Promove Slings provide a back up plan and an option when you are away from home. They can be carried at all times to ensure, even if an emergency occurs, a safe and easy transfer.  These specially designed manual slings have been on the market for five years and have recently been made available through Designed to ensure dignity is maintained, the more people who can access Promove Slings the better.

Promove Sling Video


Where’s the Need?

Promove Sling in Action

Promove Sling in Action

Promove Slings are a much needed product due to the fact that the only way to move a disabled person where a hoist isn’t present is by picking them up under the arms and trying to move them as carefully as possible. This of course can be extremely embarrassing for the individual and there is the risk of injury, especially if the individual lifting has no training or experience as is often the case. If the wheelchair user or even the facility being used has a Promove Sling available then the transfer from the wheelchair can be carried out safely without embarrassment for any part involved.

Product Range

Promove has a range of different slings for different people to ensure all age groups are covered and transferring with a sling is possible for all individuals who need support.

Adult Slings

Adult Promove Sling

Adult Promove Sling

Promove offer two separate adult slings. Each sling is designed so the wheelchair user can be transferred with the support of 2-4 handles lifting them safely. The Standard Adult Manual Handling Sling is a simply designed sling which is highly portable and is designed to simply be placed under the seated individual ready for transfer. The sling provides support for the whole body including shoulders and legs and padded handles also provide extra comfort for the handlers. The adult sling is designed to hold people up to 45 stone and the second adult sling has an additional head support.

Children’s Slings

Child Size 1 Promove Sling

Child Size 1 Promove Sling

Promove also have a range of emergency slings for children. Keeping children comfortable and calm whilst being transferred can be essential in avoiding real upset and therefore a Promove sling should be used wherever possible. Promove has two sizes of slings for children. The child 1 size sling is suitable for children aged from 3 up to 10 years old and the the child size 2 sling is suitable for children aged from 8 to 14. There are also children’s slings with head support available. The feature are the same as the adult model with comfortable space to sit as well as reinforced handles for the comfort of the handler.

All Promove slings are 100% British designs and are extremely lightweight and machine-washable and provide a safe and comfortable means of transport to and from a wheelchair where a hoist isn’t available. There are many different environments and sectors where Promove slings are invaluable.

Benefits of Promove Slings

There are many benefits to Promove Slings over being lifted manually. The key ones include:

  • Being transferred without being uncomfortably manhandled
  • Friends and family can move you without risk of injury
  • Assurance that you can be evacuated safely in an emergency
  • Easy to carry in its own carry bag or stored in your rucksack
  • Multiple sizes mean they are accessible to all who need them
  • They provide an intermediate step for children getting used to hoisting

Who is using Promove Slings?


Promove Slings are a lifetime investment and affordable and can be bought by individuals who want the peace of mind of knowing they’ve always get access to a means of evacuation and transfer if necessary. It means friends and family can move wheelchair users without risk of injury. Even if your carer is usually able to lift you or you are able to transfer yourself, they are a great standby for peace of mind.

Emergency Services

Fire and Rescue and the Ambulance service use Promove Slings for lifting disabled people in challenging environments. They can also be used where people have been injured and need to be moved. Promove can be quickly placed below an individual who is confined with minimal displacement (avoiding further skeletal damage if it has taken place). Promove Slings provide an efficient and safe solution in emergency situations.


Schools and colleges can provide more for their disabled pupils by using Promove slings to transfer them to and from their wheelchairs. They can be used to wheelchair users can get involved in more activities as well as in emergency situations. It’s the perfect solution in schools where installing a tracking hoist isn’t possible.


As was the creator’s initial problem airport transfers when travelling can be extremely stressful. UK Airport service providers use Promove Slings to move passengers from their wheelchair into an aisle chair and then on into their aircraft seat. This safe and easy process removes the undignified lifting which may previously have occurred. Promove Slings comply with airline Health and Safety requirements and minimise the risk of travellers claiming against the airline or airport. We wish that all airline had them but sadly in our exprerience it is better to have your own!

Children might also benefit from a flight chair, for more tips for flying with a disabled child visit here

Care Sector

With all the worries and concerns surrounding the healthcare and caring industries at the moment – doing things properly according to guidelines really matters. Corporate and private carers of people in specialised homes for the older or disabled people should use Promove slings for all manual-handling of service users where independent movement isn’t possible and a hoist is unavailable. Hoists can breakdown or be allowed to run out of battery charge. It makes sense for every organisation to have a sling for these occasions.

Take back the control and reduce the worry of travel

Promove slings can really make a difference to the lives of wheelchair users especially when travelling. The scope to fly and travel without worrying about transferring to and from your wheelchair is extremely liberating and Promove Slings make this possible.

We (Duncan and Clare Edwards) have had a promove sling for two years and always take it with us on holidays and overnight stays. It has been a great standby and has been a godsend on several occasions.

For prices click here

If you have used a manual sling or have ever had problems with a broken hoist or an airline lift or anything related to this post, please leave a comment below

Tips for Living in Bed

Tips for managing your life in bed


Danni in bed using a laptop on her trabasack

Dannilion, one of our top fave bloggers:

One of our loyal Trabasaxons has recently written a post giving fantastic hints and tips for people who have to spend a lot of time in bed. Danni wrote the post Perfecting Bed Life earlier this month and this post is inspired by her wonderful work with a few added tips of our own.

Living with M.E. has meant Danni, in her own words, has ‘spent nearly every moment’ in bed for the past few months. Despite this she’s adapted and her post on how to make the best of managing your life from bed is extremely inspiring and we couldn’t help but highlight and share some of her top tips. Danni highlights a wide range of valuable products and ideas which can make living from bed a little easier.

Essential Gadgets for Long Term Stays in Bed

trabasack bed tray holding an ipad with a media mount

Trabasack and Multimedia Mount ideal for use in bed

Getting used to an adapting to living from bed is difficult but here are a few tips that could be considered essential to your new routine and lifestyle.

Danni recommends investing in an over-bed table to make accessing things you need regularly easier. It’s also helpful for watching and using multimedia devices up close. An over-bed table falls short when sitting up becomes an issue and Danni suggests using your Trabasack in this case and a Trabasack is also an affordable alternative if you’re not sure about the space for an over-bed table in your home.

Danni also recommends another of our favourite products – the Hydrant, for drinking from bed as it stops the risk of any spills and they can be bought in large sizes. Replacement ends are needed when the device has been used regularly for a number of months. Hydrants are now used by the NHS to help ensure patients are kept hydrated in hospitals.

We also like the handsteady drinking cup that allows you tilt the cup right back using the rotating handle.

Infographic showing a hand holding the handSteady cup with information about how it works.

The handSteady drinking aid stays upright, is easy to tilt and always keeps steady. Click this image for more info.

Another simple yet essential tip from Danni is her suggestion that you should have as much stuff as you possibly can within reach. It’s not always possible or appropriate to call someone to get stuff for you and maintains a degree of independence. This could mean having shelves installed near your bed or putting key items on the bed next to you where there’s space. Bedside tables are ideal for storing snacks and medication.

Another alternative that we featured in a previous blog is a Telestik grabber or Handi reacher to extend your reach and access things that have dropped to the floor.

From a personal perspective it makes sense to keep the room as nice as you possibly can. Danni highlights that some people need rooms to be non-stimulating but others can benefit from nice pictures or being able to see out of the window.

Exercise and Pressure Sores in Bed

Another essential key point is to remember to keep moving as much as you can. It is very easy to slip into the habit of staying still once you’re living from bed but as Danni warns, bed sores are a genuine risk. If you can move yourself it’s best to try to do so as much as you can, whether it’s wriggling, rolling or whatever is best for your circumstances. If you’re unable to do this then it’s essential you have help to move position every two hours or so. Some people use sliding sheets or towels to help them roll and move in bed with the help of another person.

Bed sores or to use their technical name pressure sores develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time. They can become extremely painful and hard to manage and therefore keeping active from bed, in any way you can, really is essential. As Danni also mentions, a low cost idea is using a sheepskin can help with making the bed softer. If you do not move much and are spending long periods in bed it would be good to also ask your occupational therapist about a special mattress or even an inflating one.

Keeping in Touch

Our final essential point is to ensure you have an effective way of contacting your carers. This could be via a telephone, computer or if you live alone a panic button or cord. Wireless doorbells are another way of connecting with someone who may be in another room when you need support.


Microwaveable Penguin Plush

Here we’re once again taking inspiration for Danni and covering some of the ways to make your long-term stay in bed as comfortable as possible.

Comfort is one of your top priorities and as Danni says ‘most clothes are not comfortable for lying in’ and there are clothes which are better. It’s understandable you may not always want to wear pyjamas and t-shirts and leggings make a good combo. Danni also makes the great point of saying a cardigan or zip-up hoodie is a better option than a jumper as it’s easier to take on and off.

Cushions and pillows are also great for comfort and u-shaped body pillows, often marketed as maternity products, can be a great option. They can be very supportive and can help you sit up if you find it difficult. The types of cushion and pillow which suit you will be very personal and you may want to try out different types.

Danni also highlights her trademark microwaveable penguins as great for keeping warm if you have difficulty moderating your body temperature. They can also ease chronic pain and aches of different kinds and if you don’t fancy a penguin there are plenty of microwaveable body wraps and other animal characters too.

Personal Care

Inflatable Basin

Your personal care is a very private and personal affair but there may be elements you need help and support with, especially if you’re unable to get to the bathroom.

Bed baths are great but as Danni says if it’s not always practical then bath in bed wipes are a good alternative. They’re large and designed for getting fully washed in bed – they also avoid the need to be dried afterwards.

Hair can be another issue, Danni went for the chop to make managing easier but there are options for keeping your hair clean. Dry shampoo works for a few days but isn’t a long-term solution.

No rinse shampoos
exist too to avoid excess grease or you can buy a shampoo cap. An inflatable basin is the best option for proper hair washing, along with lots of towels to ensure you don’t soak your bed right through. A waterproof mattress protector is a complete essential and guarantees your mattress doesn’t need replacing regularly.

Toileting in Bed


There are various toilet aids that can help in bed

Toileting is another personal care issue you’ll need to handle and as Danni says for most people it’ll mean using a bedpan or incontinence pads. It’s not the most pleasant of issues but it is something you have to deal with. If you can manage a commode then this is a good option and there are personal toilets such as the Uriwell range which can be useful. There are a range of different bedpans on the market and as with the pillows it’s worth finding out which is best to suit your needs.

Entertainments and Extras

Keeping entertained and motivated is one of the main concerns if you’re living from bed. Mental stimulation may not always be something you need dependent on your illness but keeping entertained is key to avoiding further problems such as depression.

Comfortable SleepPhones

Danni highlights a laptop, tablet or internet connected phone as a hugely valuable resource as it gives you access to social networks, games and you can stream television and films. What works best for you will depend on the level of fine motor skills you have maintained and if you need further support your Trabasack and Media Mount combined can keep your tablet or smartphone perfectly in position.

A tablet is a great idea. You can watch films, talk to friends via social media and email and listen to music using something lightweight like a kindle fire.  if you like to read as you can access the Kindle app and read to your heart’s content when you’re well enough. If you are reading a traditional book there is the Page Keeper that can help keep track and hold your page open. Danni also recommends the uniquely designed SleepPhones as they’re designed to be worn in bed so extra comfortable.

Additional extra can include everything from an eye mask to make sleep even more restful to fans to keep you cool in summer, which can be no mean feat when living from bed. Other gadgets you could consider include remote controlled lights and electric switches and this makes another job which you may have relied on others for something you can do yourself.

The Most Important Point of All

Taking Danni’s word once more:

Try to remain positive. Living in bed is not the end of the world. It may not be what you choose but it doesn’t have to be completely negative. I find joy in many things while being in bed, and though I do want to get out and back into my wheelchair, it hasn’t been all bad. Bringing my computer in here so I could use it in bed was one of the best decisions we made.

Your Tips for Making the Best of Long Term Stays in Bed

Please share any tips or gadgets that you find useful or any comments that you would like to share below.