Walking into Thrive Hearing Solutions, I receive a warm greeting from the woman behind the front desk. The bright and airy room feels more like a spa than a medical clinic with its warm, modern wooden feature wall, greenery spread throughout, and a big screen television mounted to the wall.
Off to the side, audiologist Dr. Karen Sharpe assists a client with the latest in hearing aid technology. The large television isn’t just there for entertainment; the client’s hearing aid directly connects with Bluetooth to the television, easily controlled through a mobile app available for both Apple and Android products. His hearing aids can also be remotely programmed using Telecare by Dr. Sharpe, should he need adjustments and be unable to make it back to the office. After getting him connected, the client leaves with a big smile on his face.
As Dr. Sharpe walks me through the rest of the space, she tells me her partner, Dan Acton, completely renovated the space in just three months before opening up this January. Taking the design from a napkin to a CAD drawing, Dan transformed the space into a calm, relaxing atmosphere, perfect for clients dealing with the often stressful experience of hearing loss.
In addition to the literal construction of the business, Thrive has been shaped by Saskatoon native Dr. Sharpe’s family. The cheerful hello I got when I walked in? It was from her stepmom, Angelica. Not only is Thrive run by the family, but Dr. Sharpe’s initial interest in audiology was sparked her stepbrother, who is deaf and now wears cochlear implants.
Being able to offer more individualized service is a perk of the privatized practice. “The most important part of getting the best hearing device for a patient is first knowing the patient and what their needs are. That’s why we recommend bringing a significant other or ‘communication partner’ to your appointments,” Dr. Sharpe notes. “Hearing aids are not one size fits all.” Audiologists like Dr. Sharpe are health care professionals trained to evaluate and rehabilitate hearing loss and related disorders, such as tinnitus. When compared with a box store or discount retail, the quality and service won’t match what Thrive Hearing Solutions can provide.
In addition to Dr. Sharpe’s individualized, expert care, Thrive clients also experience someone who truly understands what they are dealing with. Born with hearing loss, Dan is able to relate to clients, whether he is working with clients or sharing his experience.
“The challenge is to not feel like it’s a disability,” Dan notes, “but to feel like you’re not missing something.” When dealing with an invisible disability, it can be hard for strangers to realize a disability even exists. Dan said he often dealt with miscommunication and misunderstanding, noting that people often thought he just wasn’t listening to them. With his hearing aids in, he gets everything.
Not being able to communicate with the world around you can lead to mental, physical and emotional problems. Hearing loss is linked to dementia, heightened fall risk and depression. Unfortunately, hearing loss also goes widely unacknowledged. Of the 675 million sufferers worldwide, only 10 per cent actively seek help.
Starting with the relationship between doctor and client, Dr. Sharpe and her team at Thrive are increasing the quality of their clients’ lives by putting the focus where it belongs — on communication and connection.
Thrive Hearing Solutions
9 - 410 Ludlow Street
By Jenni Lawrence