Targeted Hearing Screening in the Community – Delegation Model

Mrs Beth Polkinghorne1, Dr Rachael Beswick1, Ms Lia Traves1

 1Children’s Health Queensland, Australia


Children’s Health Queensland has recognised the need to deliver hearing screening in the community to those children not already accessing services through the three other screening programs available.  These are 1) Healthy Hearing Program, the statewide universal newborn hearing screening and targeted surveillance program, 2) Deadly Ears Program which provides statewide prevention, early identification and management of middle ear disease and associated conductive hearing loss in Indigenous children; 3) The 4-5 Year Clinics run through Child Health Service in the greater Brisbane Area.   To address this need the Targeted Hearing Screening Project was developed with the first clinic in April 2017.  The service is now offered at two local Community Health Centres, seeing approximately 80 children a month.  Off-site screenings at daycares and schools are also offered.  This service provides screening to those who are identified as at risk for hearing loss (e.g. parental concern regarding hearing or speech and language delays) or to children who would be referred as a Category 3 (routine patient) to the local hospital Audiology Department.  This project is examining the feasibility of a delegation model where Allied Health Assistants are trained in hearing screening and are supervised by a Senior Audiologist.  We will discuss the inclusion and exclusion criteria used, the screening protocols and equipment, referral pathways into the service and the pathway for children who does not pass the screening for diagnostic audiology and/or medical management (e.g. GP or ENT referral).  We will discuss the training methods and supervision model provided to the Allied Health Assistants and the peer networking and support offered.  Outcome data (including refer rates and detection of hearing loss) and experiences and learnings from these clinics will also be shared.


Beth Polkinghorne is a paediatric audiologist with 10 years experience and currently works for Children’s Health Queensland.  Beth has an interest in screening programs, hearing implants and teleaudiology.