The ManCAD response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The past year has been unlike anything any of us have previously experienced. The University campus closed in March 2020, research studies requiring face-to-face data collection are still on pause, and ManCAD staff are mostly working from home.
ManCAD education and training
We have had to modifying practical classes and clinical placements, change assessment processes and modify dissertation projects. Right now we are providing blended/online synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning.
National remote working guidance
At the start of the first lockdown, we recognised the need to maintain support of the healthcare science and academic audiology communities. One way we achieved this was by joining forces with the British Academy of Audiology (BAA) to provide remote working guidance via a series of documents and webinars.
ManCAD-BAA podcast-journal club series
To support the healthcare science and academic communities we initiated a monthly podcast-online journal club series. Each podcast is accompanied by a journal club in which a related paper is discussed.
Remote hearing assessment
ManCAD and the Hearing Health theme within the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) have a longstanding interest in teleaudiology. At the request of NHS audiologists, we have accelerated a number of research studies on teleaudiology.
One of these is our work using the digits-in-noise (DiN) hearing test that can be completed at home on a PC or mobile technology using regular earphones.
Is a fully remote hearing care pathway feasible within the NHS?
Although COVID-19 has necessitated minimising in-person contact during clinical care, audiologists in the USA have been wrestling with the concept of remote care since the FDA approved ‘over-the-counter’ hearing devices back in 2019.
Quite reasonably, many have concerns about fully remote hearing aid provision pathways because of the inability to conduct audiometry, otoscopy and real-ear measures.
Investigators at ManCAD, in collaboration with audiology services at Withington Community Hospital, South Manchester, are assessing if online clinical care pathway can be feasibly implemented within the NHS.
Peer-reviewed research publications
The Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Audiology kindly accelerated the peer-review process of COVID-related research studies.
And thanks to the publishers, Taylor and Francis, these have all been made available to everyone with free download from the IJA website. Articles include COVID-19 and the audio-vestibular system, user perspectives on the impact of face coverings, and the views of audiologists on remote care.
Funded research studies
All of our studies have been supported by the Manchester BRC, but we have obtained additional external funding for a number of research studies including: (1) the auditory consequences of COVID-19 and (2) designing facemasks that make communication easier.
A rolling stone gathers no MOSS: the listening lab goes global
With a range of research on speech perception in the pipeline, lockdown forced us to think about creating research-grade online listening tests that could be used during and after lockdown. This resulted in the Manchester Online Speech-perception Suite (MOSS). Anyone with access to a web browser and earphones can test their speech perception.
ManCAD staff support COVID-19 vaccine trial
A number of ManCAD research and support staff volunteered their time to help the cause by providing help with reception and administrative duties, data management, pre-screening potential participants, and running samples to the lab. The Manchester site was the first to consent a participant.
Kevin J Munro, on behalf of ManCAD,
The University of Manchester