Prior to the pandemic, interpreters would mainly attend appointments in person. As WSLHD HCIS covers three districts, interpreters had to travel extensively to appointments, resulting in interpreters being occasionally delayed. One of the advantages of video interpreting is the increased availability of and faster access to interpreters.
In addition, many other clinical services in NSLHD have adopted video interpreting, which is now available in 66 languages. The NSLHD virtual care team and HCIS work closely with services to enable access to the video interpreting service.
The number of video interpreting sessions in NSLHD increased from 199 sessions in 2020 to 1,070 sessions in 2021. In 2022 more than 2000 sessions have already occurred.
“Many of our culturally and linguistically diverse patients use apps like Zoom and WhatsApp to contact their relatives overseas, so using ‘online’ communication isn’t foreign to them,” WSLHD HCIS Manager Gordana Vasic said.
NSLHD Multicultural Health Service Manager Cathy Butler said the introduction of video interpreting had been very timely.
“Many consumers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have provided feedback on the need to improve the utilisation of health care interpreters in health services,” she said. “Improving access to health care interpreting services is also an objective in the NSLHD Strategic Plan.
“It is important staff and consumers work together to ensure our services are culturally welcoming, safe and responsive to the diverse needs of our community.”