The University of Auckland Clinics

Assessment for adult cochlear implants

Here at The University of Auckland Clinics’ Hearing and Tinnitus Clinic we have a cochlear implant team. The team provides the assessment and rehabilitation services for the northern region's adult cochlear implant programme. This service is funded by the Northern Cochlear Implant Trust.

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant – often known as a “bionic ear” – can give a sense of sound to a profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing person.

It’s a smart electronic device made up of two parts: a piece that sits behind the outer ear and another piece surgically implanted under the skin.

It can’t restore normal hearing, but it can:

  • increase the ability to recognise speech without lip-reading
  • improve recognition of everyday sounds
  • boost a person’s confidence and enjoyment of life.

Who can a cochlear implant help?

When hearing aids aren’t enough, a cochlear implant can help:

  • adults who have lost all or most of their hearing in later life.

The implants aren’t suitable for everyone, but we can help find out if an implant would suit you.

Book an assessment

What happens during a person’s assessment for a cochlear implant? How long does it take?

Candidates spend the best part of a day with our clinical team at The University of Auckland's Tamaki Campus. Every candidate takes a hearing test in a comfortable sound-proof booth.

An audiologist checks the candidate’s hearing aid function and may fit temporary, alternative hearing aids.

We check the candidate’s speech perception. The person watches a specially recorded DVD of broadcaster Judy Bailey reading aloud. We measure how much of what she says the candidate can understand.

Afterwards, the candidate gets to meet someone who has already had a cochlear implant to discuss the pros and cons of “bionic ears”.

The following day (or soon after) the candidate meets with a specialist ear surgeon in Auckland who is also part of the National Cochlear Implant Programme. The surgeon assesses the candidate’s medical suitability for implant surgery.

If the person is suitable for an implant, they are invited to go on a waiting list for surgery. The greater the person’s assessed need for surgery, the higher up the waiting list they go.

Private surgery is also an option for some people.

Funding for cochlear implants

New Zealand has two government-funded cochlear implant programmes. The Northern Cochlear Implant Programme covers the region from Taupo to Kaitaia. The Southern Cochlear Implant Programme covers all regions south of Taupo.

The programmes fund limited numbers of implants. A few people will get their surgery fully funded. Some others may receive a subsidy which partly meets the costs.

Candidates can opt for private surgery, which costs about $50,000.

Cochlear implants usually last a life time. But there are some ongoing expenses for people who go ahead with private or partly subsidised surgery. Our team will discuss this with you during your assessment process.

Find out about adult cochlear referrals

Find out more about the Northern Cochlear Implant Programme

Cochlear Implant Price List

For our current clients our current price list can be downloaded here.

Cochlear Implant Referral Form

To ensure your referral is accepted and actioned immediately, it is vital that we receive the complete information requested below. We are unable to accept your referral until we receive all the information.