A few statistics related to this morning’s news story about the man who was deaf but was believed by hospital staff to have dementia. Although, as I understand, this man did not actually have dementia, the story reminded me of a report by Action on Hearing Loss which looks at people with hearing loss or deafness who also have other long-term conditions. There are two main elements that interested me from Action’s figures:
- Hearing loss, deafness, and dementia: 316,000 people over the age of 70 in the UK have both hearing loss and dementia. More effective management of this issue is estimated to save the economy £28 million per year. This would be done by ensuring access to effective communication and proper assessments which could help to delay care home admissions, prevent delayed diagnoses of dementia, and prevent acute hospital admissions.
- Number of BSL users and interpreters: As per the last Census (in 2011), 22,000 people said that British Sign Language (BSL) was their “main” language and the 2009/10 GP Patient Survey said that 125,000 people use BSL (the difference with the latter being that BSL may not be their “main” language). The last reported figure of registered BSL interpreters that I am aware of is from May this year at a total of 800 in the UK.
Thinking about these two points together, it would therefore be interesting to look at the age distribution of BSL users as an indicator of what “effective communication” for the over-70s group might include or look like.