Forsyth’s ACTT to the Rescue: Person Supported Thrives with Simple Hearing Device

Bryant Washington poses with his new hearing device in a black hoodie smiling.

Bryant Washington

Editor’s Note: The New Beginnings series of features aim at highlighting staff and people we support who provide an optimistic outlook on life as we head into 2021.

When Bryant Washington was having difficulty hearing, Flossie Simmons, MA, QP, a qualified mental health professional who is part of the Forsyth County Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT), sprang into action.

The people we support, like Washington, rely on Simmons’ professionalism, compassion, knowledge – and answers. In her role, she is accustomed to finding solutions in short order but this one hit close to home.

Beginning about two years ago, Washington, 49, visited medical professionals to inquire about solutions to his hearing difficulty.

He hoped to secure medical approval and funding for a hearing aid. His medical provider agreed a hearing aid would result in improved hearing, however, Social Security funding was not approved. As time wore on, Washington was frustrated about missing out on important conversations going on around him.

Simmons compares her Monarch role on ACTT to a “generalist,” finding solutions for anything and everything the people we support need including identifying community resources, securing and finding transportation to medical appointments, searching for housing options, providing instruction on coping skills and helping them reach personal goals. She works with Washington who receives ACTT services from Monarch and is a resident at a group home operated by another provider in Forsyth County.

ACTT consists of a community-based group of medical, behavioral health and rehabilitation professionals, like Simmons, who use a team approach to meet the needs of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.

“The more we tried to work with him the harder it was for him to hear and taking him places was difficult. We had to pretty much speak up for him,” Simmons recalled, noting that her father had a similar auditory issue and found assistance with a simple product sold through a local retailer that amplifies sound.

The sound amplifier purchased for Bryant Washington

Simmons finally was able to locate and purchase the product, which retails for about $15. The product looks and acts similar to costly hearing aids, fits inside the ear, has a volume button to control the level of sound and can be easily be charged.

​When Simmons helped Washington fit the device in his ear for the first time last October, both of them became emotional. “He realized all that he wasn’t hearing and he said, ‘I can hear!’ and I saw tears rolling down in his face. It tore my heart up,” Simmons recounted.

Simmons is happy to report that the device is working so well a second one was purchased, Washington’s quality of life has improved and he is thriving. Washington continues to use the device, making sure to follow the instructions to maintain a charge so he is able to use it every day. Simmons reported that Washington and his housemates, including the residential manager, are thrilled that he can hear and he is now part of their conversations.

“It is nice to know that he can hear us. I was just so relieved and rewarded to see that happen right in front of me,” Simmons said. Since receiving the hearing device last fall, Washington now confidently uses the transit system in Winston-Salem, enjoys going places and having conversations with others. ​