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Overcoming language barriers in health care

15 Jun 2021


The Multicultural Health Service and the Telehealth team, have successfully carried out the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s (NBMLHD) first video interpreting for spoken languages at Nepean Hospital.

Using new video conferencing carts, clinicians from social work, occupational therapy and aged care, worked with a patient and their family to ensure they were able to receive information relevant to their care in Croatian.

Multicultural Health Services Manager, Gordana Kostadinovska, says that video interpreting is a good model to support our culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients.

“With the anticipated population growth of CALD patients in the coming years, we are looking for a more accessible and sustainable model for interpreter services,” says Gordana.

“When interpreting is conducted over video, patients are able to see facial expressions and body language to help them understand the meaning of what is being conveyed,” says Gordana.

With an effective 18 month pilot of video interpreting for Auslan at the Nepean Centre for Oral Health already conducted, video interpreting for community languages has been a natural progression.

“Telehealth had already been used successfully by our services to ensure they were able to maintain contact with patients during COVID-19,” says Tanya Baldacchino, Manager District Telehealth Program.

“Using it for other services such as video interpreting is just a natural progression for what is fast becoming a commonplace way of providing care,” says Tanya.

Video interpreting is an innovative alternative to onsite interpreting and particularly useful in areas where face to face interpreters are not readily available. This may be in rural sites, where particular language interpreters are limited or in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on the video interpreting pilot, please contact our Multicultural Health Services team on (02) 4734 1600 or