Just one in five audiology clinics is independent – and Marina Opacak from Active Audiology in Altona says this number will only get smaller as large corporations buy up smaller operators.
A full-time audiologist, Marina finds working with an independent clinic very rewarding.
“Having independence gives me the complete freedom to prescribe exactly what I believe is the most suitable technology for a client,” she explains.
“And for this reason, many locals are referring their friends and family to us because our hearing solutions actually work.
“We see a lot of clients who have consulted other hearing companies and, unfortunately, experienced very poor treatment – and in some cases, felt they were being ripped off.
“One poor lady was very upset because she felt she was being forced to buy a hearing aid when she didn’t understand why. She came to us through a friend who’d previously received our services.
“Our receptionist spent a long time with her before she went into her appointment – just to reassure her she was in good hands and wouldn’t be pushed into anything she was unsure about.
“By the end of the appointment, she was beaming and looking forward to coming back for her hearing aid. We later checked how she was feeling with her aid choice and if she was happy with her audiologists.
“The client is now a regular. We chose a hearing aid she was comfortable with and made her feel confident again to go out to restaurants and catch up with her friends.”
In his earlier days, Active Audiology owner Cris Ivandis worked for large corporate hearing companies. He realised that while they were well run, personal service to the elderly wasn’t strong. He also felt that independence as a clinician wasn’t possible when working for large clinics – so he opened his own in 2004 and hasn’t looked back.
Cris and Marina acknowledge that hearing loss can be a difficult condition to treat as many sufferers aren’t ready or feel confused about what to do.
“We understand how difficult that can be,” Cris says. “We’ve counselled hundreds of people through a range of emotions associated with accepting hearing loss and doing something about it. Finding the right hearing aid is only half the solution.”
The Altona clinic is government-accredited for free hearing services and aids to pensioners and DVA Goldcard holders and provides hearing tests, custom-made noise plugs and tinnitus testing and handles Worksafe claims.
Active Audiology, 10 Harrington Square, Altona. Opens 9am-5pm weekdays. Inquiries: 9398 3331 or visit www.activeaudiology.com.au