- Published on 23 November 2022
The conference dynamic for 2022 was defined some time ago by the BAA. It was going to have a clinical focus. And it did... but no one forgot the other things that conference is about.
Manchester is a favourite location for British Academy of Audiology gatherings. It’s a city that ranks high on many kinds of best of lists, among them for retail, leisure, and doing business. Oh aye yeah, and when the sun shines something lovely happens. Light hits wide tram-tracked streets, famous squares, and industrial legacy architecture, and Manchester’s European ambience shines.
And how the sun did shine in Manchester for the 2022 BAA Annual Conference! Rays of light poured through the fenestrations in the Central Convention Complex as over 500 delegates mingled on the morning of Thursday, October 13. The conference had been announced by the BAA as a learning-based experience with a strong clinical programme. Everyone got that. But they got - and yearned for - plenty more.
PW Professor Kevin Munro dashing through the early crowd. A short while later he was on stage paying tribute to the late Prof. David Baguley.As arriving delegates crowded into a narrow lobby and picked up their delegate bags, passing high-quality poster presentations in a space that led one way to the main auditorium, and the other way to a brimming exhibition space, there was a palpable vitality to the conversations, to body language, to looks and smiles. Not only was this a meeting of many unmet needs after a frustrating enforced hiatus; it also felt like the energy stored up and released into sharing perspectives and picking up fresh knowledge will easily be strong enough to make 2023 conferences even better attended.
The 500+ delegates were, of course augmented by crews staffing exhibition stands, and the speakers delivering keynotes, free papers, and updates in tech, product, and software across the BAA’s format of three parallel educational tracks.
To their absolute credit, the organisers managed the flow without the slightest need for anyone to notice the machinery, ably demonstrating the BAA’s capacity to fulfil its destiny as host of the World Congress of Audiology in Edinburgh in 2028.
A reverently droll homage to David Baguley
On the first morning of the Conference, Prof. Kevin Munro gave a tender and ticklishly playful tribute to his recently departed friend and colleague Prof. Rev. David Baguley, leading researcher in hearing and tinnitus, and teacher and mentor to many years of audiology graduates. Quoting the last line of Shamus Heaney’s poem Postscript, in reference to events that come our way - “And catch the heart off guard and blow it open” - Munro revealed: “I think that is what a lot of us felt like when we got the news earlier this year that David had passed away.”
Underlining Baguley’s Mancunian roots, Munro proceeded to describe the late researcher’s career and personal life. “Dave, I think, was unique in being able to straddle different health professions [...] and combine that with his interactions with researchers in the field of neuroscience and psychology, for example, so he had this ability to be able to connect people and share different people’s insights and perspectives,” stressed the Director of the Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness.
A buzzing industry exhibition
Day one - rotating Presidents, sparkling keynote lectures
In her opening address, after thanking the Conference sponsors (see list below) and contributors, outgoing President Kath Lewis underlined that audiology continues to face a lot of issues. “We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead that will affect how our profession develops. The future of our workforce that has been prominent in our strategy; we need to realise that we need to invest in our early professionals and trainees so that they will still be here for us when we need them in the future,” Lewis told delegates. She called for a collective reframing of the university approach to assure good placement experiences for audiology trainees, “otherwise people are going to struggle to compete with the initial offer that the private sector gives to our trainees coming out of universities.”
Standards, said Lewis, is another big issue, one requiring “an overarching audiology quality standards for the UK”, as well evidence paths to ensure standards are met.
In a brief opening speech, Lewis conveyed the BAA as a professional body striving urgently to move things forward in ways her successor, Samantha Lear, in her inaugural address as President, was keen to further in her own way.
“We shouldn’t just do what we’ve always done, and that’s one of the reasons that conference is so valuable. Those who heard Claire Benton’s talk at the Heads of Service meeting about her reflections after the Lothian review may remember her plea to really look at your own practice, to be open to external review and constructive criticism, to admit to one’s weakness and reach out for support if needed,” said Lear at the end of the second and final day of this conference.
In a significant plea to members, Lear reflected a current for unity in the audiology profession that was to be heard in other conversations, both public and off the record, during the conference: “I ask if you feel as passionate about supporting our profession as we do, please get involved with BAA any way you can – after all we are not some separate organisation that is part of the NHS or government. We are just a body of audiologists.”
A full range of audiology subjects in the lecture programme
Given the growing significance for the profession of links between hearing loss and cognitive disorders, the Conference’s opening Keynote speech focused on studies looking at how hearing loss might be a modifiable risk factor for dementia. Presented in a frank, careful scholarly style by UCL’s Dr. Sergi Costafreda Gonzalez, the lecture proved a winner for the auditorium’s early audience, and its theme was revisited in another Keynote presentation the following day by Prof. Iracema Leroi. Audio Infos will publish an insightful interview with Dr. Costafreda in a subsequent issue.
Two other Keynote speakers presented: Dr Zara Jay, Clinical Psychologist, University College London Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, was invited back to the BAA event for a second successive year, and presented on psychological approaches to supporting those experiencing vestibular symptoms. Dr Paul Johns, a consultant neuropathologist and reader in clinical neuroanatomy at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, closed the conference with the BAA’s annual Bamford Lecture: Neuroscience of hearing and language: the importance of early access to sound.
Both days featured a wide range of audiology topics given plenty of detail by authors of free papers. An impressive number of posters were on view in the lobby, as usual offering glimpses into fascinating research that will make some wonder why certain research is not given a stage presentation. But a conference can only have so much, and this 2022 BAA event had a lot more than rare Manchester sunshine. It worked... from its packed industry exhibition to its comfortable networking opportunities, engaging best practice sessions, and a first day soiree at a two-floor bar space in Deansgate Docks - Revolution - at which new President Samantha Lear made a statement of intent by being the first to hit the dancefloor.
The 2022 BAA Award winners are:
Audiologist of the Year for 2022 : Dr. Bhavisha Parmar
Meeting the BAA criterion of a person who “goes above and beyond duty to put the patient first, or improve their experience in a small way”, Dr. Bhavisha Parmar was nominated for “exhibiting a high level of devotion, honesty, and dependability in a voluntary role over many years, and inspiring the next generation of Audiologists”.
Team of the Year : York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Led by Kate Iley, nominations recognised this team’s relentless spirit and selflessness, a group replete with character and leadership but friendly, welcoming people.
Jos Millar Shield : Anne Thomas and Andrew Whitehouse
Given annually for the best contribution to a BAA publication.
Anne and Andrew’s article – Meeting the needs of ADHD and autistic people in the audiology clinic – was a follow up to a presentation they gave at the 2021 BAA conference.
Paul Doody Supervisor of the year : Ruzvana Zavier
Ruzvana was nominated for being “one of the most patient, understanding, and supportive trainers”.
Paediatric Audiologist of the Year (sponsored by Phonak) : Paul Stokes
Nominated for going above and beyond for a child. “Paul is always at the end of the phone if needed, and is so good at getting children to open up and be responsive, which has enabled them to build positive relationships,” says the BAA.
Student of the Year (sponsored by Oticon) : Beth Nixon
Nominated for showing great maturity, passion and commitment during her clinical placements, for her knowledge and skill base exceeding their level of experience, being a shining example of what every student should be, and being “a complete breath of fresh air”.
Best Clinical Poster : Siddrah Malik for her poster: Impact of COVID-19 on Newborn Hearing Screening Programme in a large teaching hospital
Best Research poster : Simon Howe for his poster: The use of auditory evoked potentials in people with learning disabilities: A scoping review summary
Best Student Poster : Ibrahim Almufarrij for the second year running. This year’s title was: Do hearing aid users prefer hearing aids fitted with or without real-ear measurements?
The 18th BAA Annual Conference was sponsored by (Platinum) Natus, Danalogic GN, Oticon, Cochlear, and Signia; (Gold) MED-EL, Phonak; and (Silver) DP Medical.
Source: Audio Infos issue 151 November-December 2022