WATIS Interpreting Service
3 Mary Poynton Cres, Takapuna, North Shore
Ph: (09) 442 3211 | Extn: 2211 (bookings)
Ph: (09) 442 7219 | Extn: 7219 (other enquiries)
The following are guidelines for health professionals on how to work effectively with an interpreter before, during and at the end of a session.
Introduce yourself and your role to the interpreter before meeting with the patient / client
Identify a leader for the session if more than one health professional is attending the session
Explain briefly to the interpreter about the purpose and objectives of the session and expectations from the interpreter (e.g. literal interpretation only or with clarification)
Agree to use consecutive interpreting style
Remind interpreter about the confidentiality protocol
When working with interpreters in face-to-face sessions, set-up an appropriate seating arrangement to facilitate communication, preferably in a triangle or circular layout to ensure you are in the view of the patient/client and vice versa
When working with Sign Language interpreters, arrange the interpreter to face the deaf patient / client so that they are clearly in the view of the patient / client
Introduce the interpreter and explain your role and the interpreter's role to the patient / client
Inform the patient / client that everything said in the session will be interpreted, i.e. no private discussions between parties during the session
Assure the patient / client that the rule of confidentiality applies to all parties, including the interpreter
Establish ground rules for speaking through the interpreter, i.e. not directly to the interpreter
For face-to-face sessions, keep eye contact with your patient / client (interpreter's role is to redirect the eye contact to all parties concerned)
Address the patient / client or family member directly, using first person language, e.g. "Good morning, I am Dr Smith, how are you?"
Do not enter into direct conversation with the interpreter
Do not ask the interpreter for their opinion (except for cultural clarification)
Allow time for interpreting, ask one question at a time (it may only take 3 words to explain in English, but may take more words for the interpreter to convey the information in their language as there may not be an equivalent word for direct translation available)
Use plain English, be succinct, pause regularly
Stop speaking when an interpreter signals with a hand gesture, or when the interpreter starts to interpret
Summarise periodically when managing complex issues
It is your responsibility to ensure the patient / client understands what you have said or any written information (translated or in English) provided by you that requires their understanding or consent. Check for understanding by asking the patient / client to repeat key points or messages in their own words via the interpreter.
Seek permission from the patient / client if you need to obtain clarification or cultural information from the interpreter and explain to the patient / clients about the nature of the conversation via the interpreter
Avoid long discussions with the interpreter
Check if the patient / client has understood the key messages / points
Ask the patient / client if they have any further questions
After saying goodbye to the patient / clients, retain the interpreter for a quick debriefing sessions
Clarify any cultural issues, interpretation of words or concepts
Check with the interpreter whether there was anything that might have been missed (e.g. non-verbal communication, culture-bound issues)
Check with interpreter whether they are alright if they had a difficult session with the patient / client (e.g. for a mental health session).
Remind them to contact WATIS to access Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), counselling or supervision sessions if there is a need
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