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Patient Voices: Interpreting Tales


Interpreting Tales

These stories are part of the ‘Interpreting Tales’ series, which is the result of a collaboration between Cintra, INTRAN, HITS and TIP, and has been funded by the European Social Fund and EEDA. Told by interpreters, service users and service providers, the stories are intended to highlight the need for professionally qualified interpreters where English is not the first language, in order to improve access to all public sector services, and especially to reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes. These stories do not simply demonstrate best practice – they also illustrate some of the complex and challenging issues and dilemmas faced by interpreters, service providers and service users.

No matter how experienced and mature the interpreter, an assignment may carry with it an emotional impact that is difficult to forsee.

The world is full of remedies
Awareness of mental health issues must take account of the cultural, religious and cultural concepts and understandings of different communities if effective care is to be delivered.

Lost in translation
An interpreter’s presence at a coronary procedure helps avoid misunderstanding, build trust and ease the patient’s experience – and brings an unexpected benefit for her!

Please help us…
A refugee’s pleas for aid go unanswered by the system. Without an interpreter, they would not even have been understood.

The naked truth
A patient’s reticence in a consultation with a practitioner may pose an even greater barrier to effective treatment if their first language is not understood by the practitioner and an interpreter is not present.

The world through another person’s eyes
Efficient and cost-effective care with good concordance can only be achieved through a holistic understanding of the patient’s experiences, culture and health beliefs.

A change of heart
Interpreters may have to face and overcome social and cultural resistance to their role but, especially in health and social care, the effort is often worth it.

So many words…
Words are important. Their meanings are important. These vary from culture to culture and depend on context. It is, therefore, crucial that interpreters render the most accurate meaning rather than a literal translation.

The unlikely interpreter
People come to interpreting via many and varied routes with frustrations and rewards in almost equal measure. The satisfactions of the job encourage Randall to speculate about the future.

The cost of interpreting
There are many media reports about the rising costs of providing interpreting services but, from an interpreter’s point of view, there are other reasons for rising costs.

What would you do?
The boundaries of the interpreter’s role can be difficult to map, especially in small communities and difficult circumstances. This story tells of three such occasions that test an interpreter’s professionalism and humanity.

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