For registered hearing instrument practitioner Heather Kashino, getting outside of the office and into the community is one of the things she loves most about her work at the Vernon South Connect Hearing Clinic on 3415 32nd Ave in Vernon, British Columbia.
“I do a lot of community screenings as part of my job, sometimes two or three a month,” says Kashino, who joined Connect Hearing in 2012. She has worked in various aspects of the health and medical industry since 1983 but began her career in hearing health in 2002. “I do that because sometimes hearing loss isn't something people even think about, or know about, but they see my screening events and feel a bit less intimated. It's an easier way to address hearing loss."
One thing that interests Kashino about her job is customizing her approach and the product to the individual needs of her clients in Vernon, British Columbia.
“Since coming to Connect Hearing, I am able to provide free trials with hearing aids to my clients. It is always a thrill when I can predict and observe how vastly the hearing aids will open up a person's world,” says Kashino. “One of my clients who went through this life-changing experience went on to become an ambassador for Connect Hearing and is featured in an upcoming marketing campaign.”
Connect Hearing sat down with Kashino and discussed hearing health, her outreach events and life in the beautiful Okanagan Valley.
Connect Hearing (CH): How has working at Connect Hearing changed your understanding of hearing health and the importance of maintaining hearing health?
Heather Kashino: I have always recognized the importance of hearing health. I ensure that my clients understand the danger of an untreated hearing loss leading to decreased word recognition and under stimulation of neural (brain) pathways. I counsel them regarding the research concerning the link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.
CH: One thing we are very proud of at Connect Hearing is our 'free hearing test policy that allows people to come in and get their hearing checked without any cost to them. Besides our commitment to the community, Connect Hearing has also been named one of Canada's greatest places to work. What makes it such a stand out, in your opinion?
Kashino: I love that at Connect Hearing I can allow my clients to try hearing aids with no charge or pressure to purchase and they can make a decision based on knowledge and experience. I am grateful for the up-to-date premium equipment available to me that allows me to do the best for my clients. I am also thankful that my manager and corporate office listen to my concerns and ideas especially those that reflect the needs of my clients.
CH: What recent innovation in hearing health most excites you and why?
Kashino: Hearing aids have been incorporating Bluetooth technology in smaller and smaller products and it has become more stable and with greater range. I find it exciting that this allows my clients to enjoy the technological advantages for entertainment and communication that is available to those with normal hearing and sometimes can even give the hearing impaired an advantage over their friends and family with normal hearing.
CH: Similarly, what product do you most recommend to Connect Hearing clients and why?
Kashino: I stay familiar with all products and choose the product based on my clients lifestyle and hearing needs. However, I do like the Phonak Audéo Q products as they are so small and discreet, comfortable, durable, yet have the fitting range to help anyone from a mild loss to a more severe loss.
CH: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Kashino: In my spare time, I like camping and enjoy running, hiking and have recently taken up yoga. In the winter I snowshoe and indulge my artistic side with oil/acrylic painting.
CH: What kinds of issues come up in your community?
Kashino: We are a retirement community, so we see several cases of age-related hearing loss. As part of my job I often go out and visit the Okanagan Indian Band and the Splatsin First Nation in the Shuswap Region, so we see a lot of aboriginal hearing issues.
I just love going out in the community. For example, I'm doing a screening in the public library in October, and I'm doing one in a Superstore. I try to go to larger gathering places, just to capture the attention of the community who may or may not understand hearing loss and realize they have a problem. Hearing loss is one of those things that can sneak up on you, and some people don't really notice there is a problem. That's one reason why I like getting out into the community.
CH: For people who haven't been to your community, what can you tell them about it? And what are your favourite things to do and/or favourite places to go in your community?
Kashino: For those of you who haven't visited the Okanagan, it is a gem of natural beauty. We have three lakes in Vernon and fantastic hiking trails and parks. We also have great skiing, both cross-country at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre and our downhill ski resort Silver Star Mountain.