New Communication Aid to Improve Access to Healthcare for Migrant Workers, Refug
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Pfizer Healthcare Ireland and NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Health Service Executive (HSE) have launched a Multilingual Project for General Practice settings, which includes a poster and a quick reference guide for GP staff. The aim of the Multilingual Project is to facilitate communication with patients with limited English proficiency (LEP), to provide a tool to overcome minor language barriers during consultations and to serve as a welcome poster in GP surgeries for patients coming from different ethnic backgrounds. To date, the Irish health sector has not had to address diversity in healthcare delivery on such a large scale or for such a wide variety of cultural groups. Research at the Department of General Practice, NUI Galway highlights that language differences between patients with LEP and their GPs are a serious barrier to health care access. The Multilingual Project contains words and phrases commonly used in a GP consultation. These are translated into ten languages that are frequently spoken in modern Ireland including English, Irish, French, Polish, Chinese (Mandarin), Lithuanian, Latvian, Portuguese, Arabic (Classic) and Russian. In light of a recent successful piloting of the Multilingual Project among GPs in Co Galway it will be distributed to all GPs in the Republic of Ireland. Dr Hans-Olaf Pieper, Fellow in Asylum Seeker and Refugee Healthcare, NUI Galway commented, "It is vital that all people living on the island of Ireland have access to healthcare. While this tool is not designed to replace the use of a professional, trained interpreter, it is intended to facilitate a path of communication between a GP and their patient. The display of the poster has the potential to indicate to patients with LEP that their doctor is aware of, and concerned about their language differences. The poster also has the potential to facilitate communication exchange between doctors and patients where there is a minor language barrier. Patients may have some English but may need help identifying medical terminology, specific body parts and so on." Ms Claire Murphy, Corporate Responsibility Programmes Manager, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, stated "Currently, Ireland is a diverse society with migration named as the dominant factor responsible for the increase of Ireland's population. The development of the Pfizer Health Connect Project is timely as earlier this year the HSE National Intercultural Health Strategy identified information, language and communications as one of four main priorities and areas of development. As part of the Pfizer Health Connect Project we are launching today the Multilingual Project which addresses that need. People with LEP can now visit their GP with more confidence that they can overcome minor language barriers." Richard Broderick, Primary Care Manager, HSE West, remarked, "The Multilingual Project was developed and related research undertaken as part of the work of the Fellow in Asylum Seeker and Refugee Healthcare, NUI Galway. This post is a collaborative project between the Department of General Practice at NUI Galway, the Galway Refugee Support Group and the HSE West Primary Care Unit, which provides funding for the post. It is an inspiring achievement that in partnership between these organizations and Pfizer Healthcare Ireland this new communication aid is made available to all GPs in Ireland." Language diversity is a reality in modern Ireland and problems can arise when a communication breakdown occurs. This problem is felt especially in the General Practice setting whereby health barriers can exist due to a patient presenting with limited English. The new communication aid will hopefully assist in easing the challenging role of a General Practitioner and also facilitate a more worry free consultation for the patient.