Look after kids ears

Posted on: 7 January, 2013
Issue: Vol 13 No 1, January 2013 – March 2013
Related to Ear health

This website provides information specifically for Indigenous childcare workers and families on ear disease and hearing loss.

The website has information on:

  • Ways that families can help prevent ear disease;
  •  How to recognise when children are likely to have ear disease and need to be referred to a health clinic and;
  • Communication and support strategies to use with children with hearing loss.

Hearing loss is widespread among young Indigenous children around Australia. A very high proportion of young Indigenous children who attend childcare are likely to have fluctuating hearing loss as a consequence of middle ear disease (otitis media). If child care workers are aware of signs of ear disease and hearing loss, as well as effective communications skills to use with children who have hearing loss, they can improve outcomes for young Indigenous children. Childcare workers can potentially play a crucial role in helping to prevent young children experiencing ear disease – for example, by encouraging prevention strategies such as breast feeding and avoiding cigarette smoke. They can also help to ensure young children with ear disease do not experience delays in language and social skills. By using the most effective communications skills, as well as encouraging families to do the same, child care workers can help minimise poor long term developmental and social outcomes occurring for children. However, to date, childcare workers have generally not had access to training or resources that would allow them to play these important roles.

There are also a variety of training and resources for those training early childhood workers including posters, booklets and videos. The website is designed to be interactive in encouraging users to think about what they already know about a topic before viewing information on the website.

The videos accessed on the site focus on interviews with Indigenous adults and outline both long term consequences of hearing loss for adults as well as the impact of children’s ear disease on families.

The website also contains information on the risks of hearing loss occurring through exposure to excessive noise. Recent research has found that Indigenous children have a high risk of hearing loss from exposure to excessive noise in and around their home environment. The website provides information on families can act to reduce this type of noise exposure, especially among young children.

The website was created by Phoenix Consulting and Batchelor Institute of Tertiary Education with funding provided by a grant from a Hearing Loss Prevention Project from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care

Abstract adapted from Phoenix Consulting

Further information:

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