Meet the Phonak Expert Circle on Family-Centered Care



Louise Hickson, PhD

Louise chairs the Phonak Expert Circle on Family-Centered Care and is Professor of Audiology, Head of the School of Health and Rehabilitative Sciences, and Director of the Communication Disability Centre at the University of Queensland in Australia.

“Family are central to all aspects of our lives and involving them in hearing health care is the single most important thing that a Hearing Care Professional can do.  I am delighted to chair the Phonak FCC Expert Circle to promote the inclusion of family in hearing health care worldwide.”


Kris English, PhD

is Professor Emeritus at the University of Akron/NOAC, Ohio, USA.

"Family-centered care takes us to a new level of engagement. An “up side” is the opportunity to build support systems for our patients; a “down side” may be our secret worry about group dynamics. This worry should not hold us back; we can make a positive difference when we help family members communicate with each other. Family conversations might be difficult, but they can also provide emotional release and clarity of thought, and help the patient and family move forward."


Jill Preminger, PhD

is division chief of Communicative Disorders and program director for Audiology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

"When family members are included in the auditory rehabilitation process everyone benefits.  People with hearing loss gain educated partners who have a better understanding of their experience, family members learn their important role in auditory rehabilitation, and audiologists gain more satisfied patients."


Gabrielle Saunders, PhD

is associate director of the VA RR&D National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR), and associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Oregon Health and Science University.

"When addressed in a supportive environment, discussion about the incongruent opinions of a person with hearing loss and his/her family can be used to positively share experiences and change perspectives."


Nerina Scarinci, PhD

is Head of Speech Pathology in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia.

"As hearing health care professionals, we have a responsibility to help the entire family improve their communication, and FCC is how we can do this! In FCC, we acknowledge that our “client” is not only the person with the hearing loss but the entire family. Working with the entire family to problem solve communication difficulties not only improves communication for the person with hearing loss, but also their partner, child, grandchild, parent, and friend to name a few…"


Barbra Timmer, PhD, MBA, MAudA (CCP)

is Senior Scientist at Sonova AG and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia.

"Although clinicians may already adopt a patient-centered approach, rehabilitation outcomes, such as the provision of hearing aids, can be improved when both patients and families are involved and engaged. In family-centered care, the needs of both patients and the individuals that play a significant role in the individual’s life are recognized, with both the patient and family considered central in any clinical exchange. I strongly believe in family-centered care in audiology, as a hearing loss can have significant impact on communication and relationships with family and friends. It stands to reason that help-seeking can be encouraged and outcomes improved, if both the individuals and their family share in goal setting and decision making. I also believe it fosters a stronger relationship with the clinician and builds trust."


Joseph Montano, Ed.D

Dr. Joseph Montano is Professor of Audiology in Clinical Otolaryngology and Director of Hearing and Speech at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital.

"I am frequently asked how I can accommodate family members into the audiologic rehabilitation process when there is only a limited amount of time available for the appointment. This has not been a problem for me because of a realignment of priorities.  Time spent on building the patient relationship benefits the patient, family and me as the audiologist. Reviewing the audiogram is replaced by “Tell me about your hearing loss”. The information gained directly from the patient and family about the hearing loss is more valuable than reviewing the audiogram. It is much more productive to listen to the patient and family than it is to talk at them."


Christopher Lind, PhD

is Associate Professor in Audiology in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

“FCC puts the client back in the context of their everyday life, with all the people, the relationships, the interactions this implies. Clients’ hearing loss is now understood in terms of the meaning it has for them and those around them.  The outcomes of our clinical work may be understood and measured in this context."


Patricia McCarthy, Ph.D

is Professor of Audiology, Associate Chair, Dept of Communication Disorders & Sciences and AuD Program Director at Rush University, Chicago, IL.

"Family-Centered Care is a critical tenet of audiologic rehabilitation. Indeed, living well with hearing loss is best attained when the family is involved in the rehabilitation process. Improved quality of life  accrues for both the person with hearing loss and the family  when the hearing health care plan is family-centered."


Ora Buerkli-Halevy, MS

Ora Buerkli is Vice President of Global Audiology at Phonak Headquarters in Switzerland. 

“The opportunity to work with the foremost experts on Family-Centered Care is very exciting. Their enthusiasm and dedication to the topic is contagious. We share the same conviction that introducing a Family-Centered Care approach to daily clinical practice will make a significant difference in the life of all involved. “ 


Gurjit Singh, PhD

is a senior research audiologist at Phonak, adjunct professor at Ryerson University, and adjunct lecturer at the University of Toronto.

"The culmination of 50+ years of research in rehabilitative audiology all points towards the critical importance of providing care from a family-centered perspective. Doing so will enable the best possible outcomes for our hard-of-hearing clients."

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Christine Jones, AuD

is the VP Audiology, Phonak USA

"FCC is acknowledging the way that families and relationships really work!  Just like other aspects of life, important decisions are made by having conversations about each person’s perspective and goals to get to a point of common ground and agreement.  FCC applies that same logic to involve key loved ones in the decisions, maximizing the chance of acceptance and success.  I love that Phonak supports this holistic approach and that it really encourages us to consider important relationships in the hearing healthcare journey.  This is important because those relationships are essential to happiness, engagement and overall wellness."


Bettina Turnbull

Director of Audiology and Education Asia Pacific at Sonova

"Implementation of Family Centered Care is a change process well worth the effort, resulting in great outcomes for families and businesses alike."




Ulrike Lemke, PhD

is a senior researcher at Phonak

“At Sonova ‘we are family’ and committed to joining forces for good hearing and communication. Also, we feel obligated to the evidenced benefit and experts’ advise to include and address the family in audiological rehabilitation. It is key to have your loved ones and foremost communication partners at your side to fully acknowledge, contemplate and share decision making towards better communication.”


Stefan Launer, PhD

is VP of Science and Technology at Phonak.


Jana Besser, PhD

is a service-delivery innovation expert at Sonova

"Hearing loss is a we-disease affecting all people, who are close to the hearing impaired person. Therefore, the family is an important stakeholder in successful hearing rehabilitation. Family-Centered Care helps to get everyone on board and involved, with proven benefits for the patient, their family, and the audiologist."