Organizing Language Interpreting Services in Elderly and Emergency Healthcare

Sammanfattning: With an increasing migrant population there is a growing need to organize interpreting practices in healthcare in order to deliver equitable high-quality care.This thesis focuses on healthcare institutions’ organization of interpreting services. The aim of the study was to explore interpreting practices in a healthcare context by comparing two different healthcare areas – elderly and emergency healthcare. The study aimed to highlight the impact of the organizational and institutional context.This study was designed as an explorative and descriptive qualitative study including 79 healthcare professionals with experience of interpreting practices recruited via purposeful sampling in elderly and emergency healthcare. Data were collected through individual and focus-group interviews and analysed with inductive qualitative content analysis.The main findings show that the processes and structures around interpreting practices were complex and mainly linked to individual and interpersonal levels and, to a limited extent, to the institutional level. On the institutional level the Public Procurement Act was the only formal policy to follow. On individual and interpersonal level interpreting practices were structured by self-established informal workplace routines developed by the professional groups. The norms and routines used was determined by access to interpreters, time aspects, characteristics of the care given, health conditions and the person’s problem, expectations and requests from the person and also from healthcare professionals. There were wishes for improvement, with better flexibility in access to professional interpreters, training for users and interpreters, and also better technical solutions and equipment.In conclusion, the use of interpreters was rooted in the organizational environment of interpreting practice, including the availability of laws, policy and guidelines, and closely related to individuals’ language skills, cultural values and social factors. The use of professional interpreters was based on the nature of care in context and access to interpreters and determined by health professionals’ estimation of the person’s current health status in order to deliver fast and individualized care based on humanistic values.Thus, it is important to consider organizational framework and cultural awareness when formulating interpreting practices adapted to the context, and formal guidelines in order to achieve the aim of personcentered and equal health care.

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