Spotlight on Sarah our Operations Manager

Spotlight on Sarah our Operations Manager

Sarah is our Operations Manager at Clifton Audiology. Her organisation and passion for helping people ensures the practice runs smoothly and the audiology team can provide patients with the best care.

Here Sarah shares how she became an Operations Manager and what its like working at Clifton Audiology.

What made you want to become an Operations Manager?

My career has evolved over time and when I first started out I didn’t anticipate becoming an Operations Manager. However, looking at my strengths, I now realise how well suited they are to this role. Helping to run a busy practice, like ours, requires a careful eye for detail, organisation and the ability to plan. Above all, you need to be empathetic to those around you. It’s been a tough couple of years and it’s important to support the team so that we can carry on providing a great service to our patients regardless of any restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

 What’s the best thing about your job?

I love the variety that it brings. Planning is always crucial to running a successful business, but you also need to be flexible because no two days are ever the same. Having to keep on your toes and react to challenges keeps the job fresh and exciting. Over the past couple of years, this has been particularly true as the business has had to respond to the tightening of restrictions to battle the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

 Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

As a mum of two, fitting in your own hobbies alongside the many activities my children are involved in can prove tough, but I am very involved with our local rugby team and am treasurer for the club. I like to keep fit and have a treadmill in my home office so that I can keep on top of things while still getting some exercise. Both my girls play rugby and golf so you can often find me watching them play sport at the weekend, which I love.

 What are you looking forward to most in 2022?

Like most, I am simply looking forward to life after the pandemic and a return to some form of normality. From a business point of view, we are growing the team, so I am excited to see the business develop.

 We are hoping that our annual rugby tour will be back on this year, and we will be traveling around Somerset. Similarly, I can’t wait to go abroad again with hopefully a trip to Dubai on the horizon.

Spotlight on Jonathan Doyle our Audiologist

Jonathan Doyle (or Jon as he is better known at Clifton Audiology) is our Audiologist and brings a wealth of experience to the team. His fascination with the brain and his lifelong passion for music inspired his career in audiology.

Jon’s care and attention to his patient’s needs are evident in the numerous testimonials he has received. Jon also runs our balance testing service, which provides comprehensive diagnostics for people suffering from dizziness and vertigo.

Here Jon shares his story of working at Clifton Audiology and his tips for looking after your hearing.

What made you want to train in Audiology?

From a young age, I suffered from a common form of hearing loss, glue ear, which went undiagnosed for several years. Eventually, it was noticed that my speech and language development was delayed, and so until the age of 5, my world was very quiet. I remember first hearing clearly after an operation to have grommets inserted – I had never realised until that point that the Lion King was filled with songs! My parents have a profound appreciation for music, and since that initial flood of hearing, returning it has always been a passion of mine as well. A lifelong fascination with music and hearing initially led me to study neurosensory sciences and ultimately complete further study in audiology.

Jonathan Doyle with mask

What is the best thing about your job?

To restore a patient’s access to sound is such a joy. I know first-hand what it’s like struggling to communicate effectively or being unable to appreciate a melody, and so giving that sense of hearing back to those who’ve lost it means everything to me. Also, I’m a science nerd at heart, so I love teaching my patients about the inner ear’s workings.

What are the top three things people can do to take care of their hearing?

  1. Get it checked – hearing deteriorates over time for most of us, so don’t just wait until there is a glaring problem with your hearing. Having a regular hearing test will keep you thoroughly informed.
  2. Be wary of noise – it’s not just volume that poses a risk to your hearing, but also exposure duration. Listening to music for hours on end with earphones can be just as damaging as using a pneumatic drill without hearing protection, so give your ears a break from sound now and then. Also, if a sound feels uncomfortably loud, then it is already beyond your safe exposure limit!
  3. Keep your ears dry – the most common reason I see people in the clinic with ear infections or impacted wax is water getting into the ears. Avoid getting your ears wet when showering or bathing, and if you’re an avid swimmer or surfer, consider getting some custom fitting plugs.

How did you come to work at Clifton Audiology?

I worked for several years at a clinic on Harley Street, and a branch of their service includes a nationwide charity-backed scheme to provide tailored hearing protection to musicians. In delivering this scheme, I began travelling in the UK, and I regularly visited Bristol. On exploring this city filled with an abundance of creative minds, I was drawn to live here, and so I began my search for a clinic that aligned with my outlook. When I met the team here, I knew I had found what I was looking for – an independent practice with a skilled, patient-centric, and holistic approach.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I play the guitar and sing – in the winter, I snowboard, and in the summer, I kayak. I like to go on long strolls with my energetic spaniel Luna, and before lockdown ends, I’m determined to learn how to fish.

What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

With any luck, I am getting married to my fiancé! It’s been a turbulent year for everyone, but with some semblance of normality returning, I am hoping we can tie the knot even if it’s just our close family invited.


Book an appointment with Jonathan Doyle today by calling 01179012526 or sending a message on the Contact page.


Spotlight on Mercedes our Clinical Scientist

Mercedes is our Clinical Scientist, specialising in Audiological science, providing a compassionate voice of support to all patients of all ages. She strives to go above and beyond for every patient to ensure they receive the best patient care.

In addition to rehabilitation, Mercedes works as our procedural lead, ensuring our practise is up-to-date with the latest clinical and operational protocols at all times. This support has been pivotal for our return to practice throughout the COVID pandemic. 

Here Mercedes shares her story of working at Clifton Audiology and tips for looking after your hearing.


What made you want to train to become a Clinical Scientist, specialising in Audiology?

I previously worked with Fiona Watts for five years as her personal assistant and 12 other consultants of varying medical specialities. Throughout this time, I became increasingly drawn to patients with hearing loss. At this time, I lived with my grandparents, and I experienced the overwhelming impact that hearing loss can have on a family member; I felt compelled to help those with hearing loss as much as possible. I often witnessed a lack of compassion, patience or understanding towards people with a hearing loss. Therefore, with Fiona’s encouragement and support, I left my role as her PA to study for my MSc to become a Clinical Scientist in Audiology.

What’s the best thing about your job?

My job is intrinsically rewarding. I love helping people hear better, enabling them to connect better with the world around them and feel less isolated. Hearing difficulties and problems with tinnitus or balance have a hugely debilitating impact on quality of life and our general well-being. Knowing that each day at work, I could make a difference to improve my patients’ quality of life is incredibly important to me. Every day at work is so different, and I love meeting new people, talking with them and listening to learn more about each individual’s story.

What are the top three things people can do to take care of their hearing?

1.       Use ear protection: This is so important! I always strongly advise wearing ear protection when exposed to any high intensity of sound, whether recreational at a music concert or through occupational exposure with machinery/artillery. We know that loud sounds can be harmful to the hearing system, no matter how brief they are, so preventing this damage is vital.

2.       Don’t use cotton buds! I know it is so tempting to grab a cotton bud to ease that itch in your ear or try to get that bit of irritating wax out, but using a cotton bud will make things worse. There is a risk of damage to your ear canal or even perforating the eardrum, and with wax, you will end up just pushing it further into your ear where it will get stuck and have to be removed by a professional. Listen to the old wives tale: never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear!

3.       Manage stress levels: Looking after your general well-being and prioritising your self-care is also relevant to looking after your ears. We know that stress and anxiety have an enormous impact on tinnitus perception (noises in the ears) and balance-related symptoms. Our brains can only cope with so much at once; if you are functioning under heightened stress and pressure, this can affect your sleep, energy levels, memory and mental capacity for concentration and attention. All of these factors can influence how effectively you can listen to conversation and process auditory information. I always encourage my patients’ to focus on self-love and care using relaxation methods or physical activities that they enjoy and work for them.


Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I am very much a family person, dedicated to time spent with those I love. I am a keen runner and share this hobby with my husband.   I have always loved art, and enjoy getting stuck into any craft I can. Recently I have been involved in some virtual pamper parties where I share my passion for self-care and love of cosmetic products. The joy of pampering and having time to relax is so important in what has been a very challenging and stressful year for us all!

What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

I hope we are all filled with a sense of optimism for what 2021 may bring us. I am most looking forward to the day when I can safely visit my Mum and Grandparents and hug them. Although we have adapted to COVID-19 safety measures very effectively at the clinic, I look forward to when my patients can see my face again and the difference that will make when helping those with hearing loss. My husband and I are also welcoming two beautiful Ragdoll kittens into our family this year – I am incredibly excited!

Mercedes Collins

Helping you find the support and information you need

People with hearing loss are not alone. Firstly there are 12 million people, one in five adults, in the UK who have some kind of hearing loss.

Your GP should be your first port of call if you think you are suffering from any health concerns which could be related to your hearing. If you are assessed for further investigation, then you could be referred to us at Clifton Audiology. We assess you hearing explain the test results and if we can offer management and rehabilitation, or refer you to an appropriate healthcare professional.

There are also several great organisations providing support and information, and we wanted to help you find them. So we’ve created a list below. It’s not exhaustive and if you think we have left any organisations off that people should know about, then please get in touch and let us know.

National

RNID

Formerly, Action on Hearing Loss, the RNID works to make life fully inclusive for deaf people and those with hearing loss or tinnitus. They have lots of useful information on the website on Tinnitus, Hearing Loss and Ear Health. They also have information and support material for working, as an employer or employee, communication support and a contact line for free information and support.

Phone: 0808 808 0123

Website: www.rnid.org.uk

British Tinnitus Association

An independent charity supporting people who experience tinnitus and advise medical professionals from across the world. It works to facilitate an improved quality of life. They aim to encourage prevention through education and have a medical research programme aimed at finding an effective treatment for tinnitus.

They have a free and confidential helpline: 0800 018 0527

Website: www.tinnitus.org.uk

Age UK

Over 40% of people over the age of 50 have some form of hearing loss. Age UK supports older people when they need it most. They have a strong network of community support across the UK.

Website: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/hearing-loss/

NHS

The National Health Service has a wealth of information and directories for support for all health conditions, including hearing loss. There is an extensive health and social support guide. It is also where at this time you will find the most up to date information and advice on COVID-19.

Website: www.nhs.uk

Access to Work

This Government run intiative aims to help people who are disabled or have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for them to do their job. Your employer should make reasonable adjustments to help you do your job, but these are not enough, you may be able to get help from Access to Work. You’ll be offered support based on your needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace. Your workplace can include your home if you work from there some or all of the time.

Website: www.gov.uk/access-to-work


Local support

Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people (CFD)

CFD is a charity supporting deaf and hard of hearing people and their friends and families in Bristol. The majority of the staff and trustees are Deaf or Hard of Hearing so fully understand the impact of living with hearing loss. They share experiences and provide practical information and advice on dealing with the challenges hearing loss brings.

Phone: 0117 9398653

Website: www.cfd.org.uk

Sensory Support

Sensory support helps children and young people to learn at home, in early years settings and schools by working with families and a range of professionals from educational settings and services, health care, social care and voluntary organisations. Support is available from the time your child is diagnosed to when they leave school or further education. Local or specialist hospitals make the most referrals for children.

More information: www.bristol.gov.uk/web/bristol-local-offer/sensory-support-service

We hope this list is helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions for this list, then please contact us.

A patient story of care by Clifton Audiology

When Sally Newell was recommended the services of Clifton Audiology, she was suffering from dizzy spells and occasional hearing loss. Sally shares her story of care and the support she received from the Clifton Audiology team.

What symptoms did you have?

I had major dizzy spells resulting in nausea and vomiting, followed by needing to sleep for a few hours. My hearing appeared to drop out on occasion too.  

How did it impact your everyday life?

The impact on my daily life increased from day to day after having a dizzy spell, waiting for the next one.  They came with no warning. I was mindful if I had to make a long car trip, driving with passengers or even on my own.  I had to make conscious decisions to actually complete tasks, but it did not stop me from doing activities, individually or in group situations.

How did you find out about Clifton Audiology?

Clifton Audiology and their services were recommended to me by a consultant at Spire Bristol, where I had attended to obtain a second opinion on my hearing and balance issues. These issues had been ongoing since August 2014.

What treatment did you receive?

I had a hearing test and balance exercises to complete before my next appointment. I also had full vestibular testing.  These tests confirmed that I had a weakness in my balance centre on my left side, this had resulted from a serious ear infection in August 2014.

I had appointments on a regular basis from August 2019 until April 2020.  These sessions included reviewing progress from the previous appointment, how I felt the exercises I had been given had helped or not, and then planning to omit the exercises or change them to build on what progress I had made. 

What were the Clifton Audiology team like?

The whole team were very professional in their approach. Telephone calls and emails were always received promptly.  If I had cause to contact Clifton Audiology, Millie was very helpful and polite and dealt with any enquiry I had.  

I was the first client to have vestibular testing at Clifton Audiology. Jonathan was very patient with me during my testing procedure and explained in great detail what testing he would be doing and how it would affect me.  This put my mind at rest, and even though the testing was uncomfortable at times, I felt prepared for this.

The majority of my appointments were with Mercedes.  I cannot praise her enough.  Her approach was second to none.  She helped me through some quite difficult times with my balance issues. I felt very comfortable in discussing how I was feeling and coping with these issues.  Every set of balance exercises I was given were explained in great detail and demonstrated. These exercises were printed out at the appointment and also emailed to me. 

At the following appointment, we discussed each exercise in detail, how I felt it had helped me and how I felt when completing these exercises.  The progress of these exercises was steady with minimal regression/plateauing.  Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 issue, my final appointment was a telephone one.  I was contacted promptly and had my allotted time. Final exercises were emailed to me with a covering email reassuring me that I could contact Clifton Audiology for any further questions/queries.

Would you recommend Clifton Audiology?

I would highly recommend the services of Clifton Audiology.  The team have been nothing but professional.  They genuinely care for their clients and have complete faith in the services they provide.

If you identify with any of Sally’s symptoms or want to know more about our balance testing and rehabilitation service then please get in touch.