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How To Overcome Language Barriers In Healthcare?

How To Overcome Language Barriers In Healthcare
Use Google Translate and Interpreters – Doctors have a number of tools at their disposal, ranging from using Google Translate to having interpreters on hand to help. A good interpretation service is increasingly important. In California, Guerra-Bonilla explained, the population is about 30 percent Hispanic — but only about 5 percent of the providers are Hispanic.

  1. For minor situations in which he and his patient can mostly understand each other, he may simply rely on Google Translate for the occasional word that isn’t understood.
  2. The app is very convenient and fast, he said.
  3. But when language is a true challenge, his practice will use an over-the-phone translation service to get an interpreter’s help, or even a tablet to video conference with an interpreter.

“You dial a number and within a couple minutes, you get a person on the line who can speak their language. In our clinic, we have a phone and a tablet for videoconferencing in every single hallway,” Guerra-Bonilla said. “If you don’t use a translator, there’s potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding, and treating something that you really don’t understand fully.”

How can a healthcare worker overcome a language barrier?

Time interpreter use strategically. – Research shows that the three critical times when nurses should use interpreters are at admission, during patient teaching, and at discharge. Using interpreters at these times decreases the risks of medical errors and hospital readmissions.18, 36, 44 – 46 How will it help? During admission, using an interpreter will provide more accurate baseline information.

That, in turn, will help the healthcare team create a more accurate care plan. An interpreter can also help nurses tailor patient teaching to the needs of patients and their educational level. At discharge, having an interpreter present is equally critical, even if it delays discharge by a few hours. A good patient discharge process with an interpreter will decrease the risk that patients will be readmitted because they didn’t understand how to take their medications or other discharge instructions.18, 46 An idea for a clinical ladder project is to have discharge instructions and patient education materials translated into languages spoken by many patients.

Bilingual discharge instructions also ensure that when patients are referred for home health services, home healthcare nurses who don’t speak their language can also read the discharge instructions. The more resources that can be used for teaching and facilitating discharge for patients with LEP, the less likely they are to be readmitted or visit the ED.18, 46

How do you communicate with patients with a language barrier?

Use medical interpreters – Medical interpreters are professionals who provide translation services for health care providers. These interpreters typically have fluency in two or more languages. They also have knowledge of medical terminology and common health care practices, such as confidentiality regulations.

How can the NHS overcome language barriers?

Around one in ten people in the UK speak English as an additional language in large urban centres like London this figure rises to around one in five people. – In a public health context, language barriers can prevent patients from engaging in seamless conversations with their doctors.

  1. This can result in miscommunication which could potentially be life-threatening.
  2. Conversely, evidence shows that the better the communication between practitioner and patient, the better the clinical outcomes are.
  3. Healthcare providers in the UK are now using a variety of methods to overcome barriers to help patients who speak English as an additional language.

Communication challenges Even withstanding the huge pressure COVID-19 has put the NHS under, the latest stats on immigration show that there are now 9.5 million people living in the UK who were born outside of the country. Of those, 11 per cent are over 65, which means that there are around one million people in the UK approaching retirement age or retired, who are likely to need NHS care in some way, but potentially do not speak English as their first language.

  1. Additionally, the number of people in the UK who aren’t native English speakers is set to grow rapidly over the next 25 years.
  2. Data from the ONS shows that net international migration will account for almost three quarters of UK population growth during this time.
  3. The growing number of patients with limited English proficiency is concentrated around large urban areas, which means the need for language support is already acute in large cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester.
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Barriers created by language in healthcare can mean patients and their loved ones are initially unable to explain their symptoms, medical history, etc. Also, they may not clearly understand what medical staff are telling them. Research conducted by Pocketalk shows that more than a third of healthcare workers agreed that language barriers make it more difficult to assess a patient’s needs.

  1. The research also showed that healthcare workers are losing as much as half a working day every week – four and a half hours – overcoming communication challenges.
  2. Although healthcare providers can use interpreters, they must rely on the availability of one when needed and ensure consistent quality of translation to build and maintain trust and understanding.

Cultural beliefs also need to be considered, and clinicians may often find that patients rely on their family members and friends to act as interpreters. This can however present a number of problems. Those asked to step in as impromptu interpreters may lack appropriate language skills, knowledge of medical terminology, or fail to translate complex information correctly.

  1. Their actions could also present serious issues around patient confidentiality,
  2. Improving clinical outcomes Numerous studies conducted over the past thirty years show that a clinician’s ability to explain, listen and empathise can have a huge impact on patient health outcomes as well as patient satisfaction.

To this end, the UK government announced an extra £5.9bn investment into healthcare over the next three years, £2.1bn of which will go on improving IT and digital technology within the NHS. This is promising news and will help reduce the pressure on healthcare workers –here’s where the right technology can make a huge difference.

Whilst many healthcare providers already use over-the phone translation services to get help from an interpreter, additional access to tools such as translation devices or apps is priceless. Although, as you’d expect, each comes with its own pros and cons. While Google Translate is a solution that can provide instant translation between patient and carer, the effectiveness of the translations isn’t consistent across all languages, so in complex situations this can be difficult.

Other solutions include translation devices. For example, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK healthcare providers using Pocketalk real-time language translation devices, to overcome language barriers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. The trust received three free devices donated by Pocketalk to UK healthcare providers during the early stage of the pandemic to offer clinicians quick and accurate help to speak with patients.
  2. Having clinicians who are bilingual is also increasingly helpful for healthcare providers, who are increasingly hiring more bilingual staff.

Not only can they help translate important information to patients, but they can also help their organisation communicate in a way that takes cultural differences into account. Other ways of overcoming communication barriers include encouraging clinicians to be more visual and make full use of visual prompts.

Is language barrier easy to overcome?

4. Be Respectful And Patient – Tackling language barriers to communication can get frustrating as it’s a time-consuming and mindful process. It requires plenty of patience, conscientiousness and understanding. While you may try to do your best, there may be times when you raise your voice or over-enunciate in the process.

How do you manage language diversity in the workplace?

Encourage employees to close the language gap – Language is an inherent part of culture ; developing a multi-lingual environment is the best way to generate a diverse and inclusive workforce. Employees should be encouraged to learn other languages pertinent to their roles, supported by executives to explore differences in cultures including, idioms and traditions.

  1. Lack of time and motivation are some of the biggest challenges for employees attempting to improve their communication skills.
  2. Staff can be motivated by understanding the role of language abilities in advancing careers, encouraging promotions, and improving confidence.
  3. Language gaps and cultural disparities in the workplace cannot be avoided.
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It is critical that companies prepare and give employees the necessary tools to overcome any obstacles. How To Overcome Language Barriers In Healthcare

What are communication barriers in healthcare?

Communication skills 2: overcoming the barriers to effective communication 18 December, 2017 This article, the second in a six-part series on communication skills, a discusses the barriers to effective communication and how to overcome them Abstract Competing demands, lack of privacy, and background noise are all potential barriers to effective communication between nurses and patients. Patients’ ability to communicate effectively may also be affected by their condition, medication, pain and/or anxiety.

Nurses’ and patients’ cultural values and beliefs can also lead to misinterpretation or reinterpretation of key messages. This article, the second in a six-part series on communication skills, suggests practical ways of overcoming the most common barriers to communication in healthcare. Citation: Ali M (2017) Communication skills 2: overcoming barriers to effective communication Nursing Times; 114: 1, 40-42.

Author: Moi Ali is a communications consultant, a board member of the Scottish Ambulance Service and of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Care, and a former vice-president of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This article has been double-blind peer reviewed Scroll down to read the article or download a print-friendly PDF here Click here to see other articles in this series Read Moi Ali’s comment How To Overcome Language Barriers In Healthcare To continue reading this clinical article please log in or, Already have an account, to sign in : Communication skills 2: overcoming the barriers to effective communication

How can we overcome sensory barriers in communication?

Dementia, sensory impairment and communicating Most people aged over 70 will have some hearing loss. They may consider themselves deaf, ‘hard of hearing’ or having ‘acquired hearing loss’. This may be due to age-related damage to the ears, or other causes such as noise damage, infection, diseases or injury.

the type of hearing loss they have whether they use a hearing aid, speak British Sign Language, lip-read or a combination of these their personal preference and life history.

People with hearing loss are likely to experience more difficulties as a result of their dementia. They may already find it harder to communicate. Not being able to hear what is going on around them or hear other people speak can add to their confusion.

If the person uses a hearing aid, check that it is fitted and working properly. If you think the hearing aid isn’t working or if you need help checking it, speak to the GP or make an appointment with the audiology department at your local hospital. It may be helpful to check if the person has too much ear wax, as this may make any hearing loss and communication difficulties worse. Ask the person if they would like to lip-read, Turn your face towards the person and ensure your face is well-lit so your lip movements can be easily seen. Don’t shout or over-exaggerate words or lip movements, This can actually make it harder for the person to understand you. Speak clearly and slightly slower, but keep the natural rhythms of your speech. Don’t cover your mouth, Consider using visual prompts such as objects or pictures to help.

Many people have some sight loss as they get older. This may be age-related, or due to a condition such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Many people with sight loss will need glasses to help them see. People with sight loss are likely to experience more difficulties as a result of their dementia.

Not being able to see what is around them can lead to a greater sense of disorientation, as well as worse mobility and a higher risk of falls. Having both dementia and sight loss can also make people feel isolated from those around them, which makes good communication even more important. Communicating with a person with dementia and sight loss may be difficult, as the person may not be able to pick up on non-verbal cues or follow a conversation as easily.

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There are a number of things you can do to help them. See the tips below. Alzheimer’s Society has information in audio format and on CD. You can to factsheets,, or stories from other people affected by dementia.

Check the person is wearing their glasses, if needed, and that these are clean and the prescription is up-to-date. If someone has more than one pair of glasses, make sure they are clearly labelled for the activity they are used for – for example, reading glasses. Introduce yourself or try to get the person’s attention before starting or ending a conversation, If you don’t, they may become confused about who is talking, or if they are being spoken to. If you are helping the person with a task, let them know what you are going to do before and during it. Use reference points when describing where something is – for example, ‘Your water is on the table to your right’. It may be helpful to use imaginary hands on a clock face to describe where something is, especially for people who have lived with sight loss for many years (for example, ‘The cup is in front of you at 12 o’clock’). Make sure the physical environment is not making communication difficult – – for example, make sure that the lighting is consistent and can be adjusted. Try to reduce shadows as the person may mistake them for obstacles. If you are communicating with someone in writing, such as sending them a letter or writing an email, think about the colour of the background and font size (for example, black text on a yellow background often makes text easier to read, as does larger or capitalised text). If they have a mobile phone, you could also change the settings with their permission to make text messages easier to read.

People with learning disabilities are also at greater risk of developing dementia at a younger age, particularly people with Down’s syndrome. You should make sure a person with has a communication passport – a practical tool that gives information about a person’s complex communication difficulties, including the best ways to communicate with them.

What are examples of language barriers?

Types Of Language Barriers In Communication – Before we fast-forward to the various types of language barriers, let’s take a moment to understand their meaning. Language barriers primarily refer to the challenges faced by people or groups speaking different languages and dialects.

  • It also includes misunderstandings and misinterpretations that come from a lack of clarity of thought and speech.
  • Such barriers can be found across verbal, non-verbal and written types of communication.
  • The challenge in understanding another language, dialect or accent also refers to linguistic barriers.

Some common examples of linguistic barriers include people from different countries interacting with one another, people in some countries having a different way of greeting others and people having the same language speaking in different dialects. Culture has a significant role to play in linguistic barriers.

  1. Language difference, where a person interacts with someone speaking a different native language
  2. Dialects and accents, where two people may share a common language but they speak it differently (based on a particular region)
  3. Lack of clear speech, where people speak too soft or too fast; either way, it’s unclear what they’re saying
  4. Use of technical words or jargon, where someone communicates using specific terms that are highly technical and subject-specific
  5. Word choice, where someone uses words with two meanings or says it sarcastically that may be misinterpreted by the listener

How can a health care worker overcome a language barrier quizlet?

How can a healthcare worker overcome a language barrier? If the patient has some English-speaking ability, the health care worker can speak slowly and use simple words and gestures or pictures. If the patient has no English-speaking ability, then the health care worker should find an interpreter, if possible.

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