This week I’ve had the privilege of visiting both of the Cochlear Implant programmes in New Zealand, which offer AVT to families across New Zealand. The huge distances involved, particularly with the sparse populations as you move away from Auckland, mean they have had lots of experience at breaking down barriers so families can access AVT.

New Zealand mapThe Hearing House, Auckland. It was fantastic to catch up with the team here, who I’ve met on their trips to the UK and at conferences. They’re currently in temporary premises (our London team and families know about the complications of temporary premises!) but it was amazing to see the plans for the state of the art facility that they are building. The Hearing House covers the top part of the North Island, meaning that they can offer a programme to distance families where they get a combination of Skype sessions, outreach visits where they see families in the locality, and sessions in Auckland. This cuts down travel time for families and has led to great outcomes. There’s definitely some lessons we can learn about how best to run distance sessions and communicate with, and get regular feedback from, families. I look forward to putting this into practice.

It was also great to hear from the wider team, including their amazing fundraisers, who were so generous with telling us about their ‘Loud Shirt Day’ fundraiser and ways they have co-worked with companies. Seeing some Skype sessions in action, and exploring another clinical database was really valuable.

The Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. Nestled in Christchurch (also with an office in Wellington) is the Southern Implant programme, which has much greater distances to deal with. As such, they have perfected the art of using telecommunication, both directly to families and into schools to train teachers and teaching assistants. One of their therapists was kind enough to share the results of parent and professional surveys they had conducted about the value of the distance programme, with therapists and parents reporting as much satisfaction with Skype as face to face sessions.

I also had a blissful half hour raiding their bookshelves and found some great books for theory of mind including ‘Shark in the Park’ (Nick Sharratt) for thinking about what other people know and think, ‘Octopus Socktopus’ (Nick Sharrat) for word play jokes and ‘Just a secret’ (Gina & Mercer Meyer) for thinking about keeping secrets.

It was fantastic to visit both programmes, looking at just how easy it can be to break down geographical barriers using Skype, and how families report just how valuable they find it.

And so ends my trip across Australia and New Zealand, searching for best practise. I’ve certainly seen a huge amount of it! A big thank you to all the teams who have hosted me over the last 4 weeks, I’m so excited about the relationships built between centres, and what the future holds as we all strive to make AVT accessible to every family who wants to access it for their child.


This post was written by our Clinical Lead Rosie as part of her research trip to Australia and New Zealand, thanks to the Winston Churchill Memorial Fund. Read more:

Travels of an AV Therapist

First stop: Brisbane – Hear and Say

Getting envious of the technology…visit to The Royal Institute for Deaf and Bling children

Data, Data, Data – The Shepherd Centre, Sydney

Follow Rosie on Twitter @RosieQuayle for all the latest updates