A Day in the Life of – Lyndal Edwards, Newborn Hearing Screener
Lyndal Edwards is one of our Newborn Hearing Screeners, whose role is to check all newborn babies for hearing loss before they leave hospital. She works in the Delivery Suite, Maternity Led Birthing Unit (MLBU) and Blakeney ward. She describes her typical day:
“My day starts at 7am, with my first job being to check for babies who have been born and not yet had the screening. Numbers can vary greatly from as few as three or four to 20 or more.
“I then head up to check the number of patients, retrieve a paper handover sheet from Blakeney ward and match up the paperwork printed off from the screening system to see where the mums and babies are and which are OK to screen. The paperwork for the babies is then split between the Screeners working that day.
“I prioritise babies who are waiting to be discharged to avoid them having to come back to an out-patient clinic.
“The equipment has an earpiece which contains a speaker and a sensitive microphone, so the ideal scenario is that the baby is asleep in the cot in a quiet environment, although this doesn’t always happen when you are on a busy ward! The earpiece has a soft tip which is inserted into the baby’s ear. The speaker plays a soft clicking noise similar to white noise which transfers to the cochlea and causes tiny hairs to vibrate. The microphone looks to pick up an echo response from those hairs to show the results of a ‘clear response’ or a ‘no clear response’.
“If the baby has a ‘clear response’, I record the results in to the Personal Child Health Record known as the ‘red book’. If the baby has a ‘no clear response’, I rescreen the next day or invite them back in to an out-patient clinic to repeat. We run clinics at NNUH, Cromer, Dereham and Long Stratton.
“If after a second screen I’m unable able to get a clear response, I place little gel sensor pads on the baby’s neck, shoulder and forehead and run a different type of screen which plays the same clicking sound through baby earphones and looks to pick up a response from the auditory nerve and check the hearing pathway more extensively.
“All babies have to be 34 weeks gestation, so in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) they have to wait until they reach that age before they are screened. We use both screening methods on these babies as they are at a slightly higher risk of hearing loss due to their environment and the medication they might require.
“At the end of the day, I download all of the data and match it to the baby. The aim by the end of a shift is to have screened all babies. The handover sheet is ticked off so that whoever is working the next day is aware which babies are completed or need rescreening.
“I love my job as I have always been a baby-minded person, even as a child. I love the interaction with the parents and their new babies, and being part of such an important time in their lives.”