Nottingham, UK — The British film director Ken Loach has opened a new research lab that explores new ways of improving communication between parents and children with hearing difficulties.

The Family Lab is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing, a partnership between The University of Nottingham, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust and the Medical Research Council Institute for Hearing Research.

Based at Ropewalk House in Nottingham city centre, the Family Lab films the interaction between parents and their children. Researchers subsequently study the footage and then identify and examine the moments where parents and children have successful communication.

The moment of communication may be contained is a single frame of film that shows body or facial expressions. That evidence is then taken, worked on and the parents can then use it to develop their own skills. The program is intended to help parents to have confidence in their own ability to communicate with their child.

Lead researcher, Deborah James, explained in the press statement, “For most parents, the diagnosis of deafness in their baby comes out of the blue and is very stressful – they worry about how to communicate with their baby who can’t hear them. We are embarking on a major program of work to explore the biological, psychological and social basis for this film-based intervention which parents find empowering."

This unique intervention approach caught the interest of Ken Loach, a major UK film director, who also uses film to help people reformulate their identity.

Loach added in the announcement, “I think film is a very careful observer of how people are. When you film someone having a conversation, listening or responding you see things in film that you don’t see as a casual observer and you can look at it again and build on those responses.”

The Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing, and its Family Lab, is working alongside the Trust’s Nottingham Cochlear Implant Centre (NCIC) at Ropewalk House and the Ear Foundation to carry out translational research in hearing.

Ken Loach has had a successful film directing career which has spanned more than 40 years. His films include Kes, Riff-Raff and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, for which he won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

SOURCE: University of Nottingham