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VCH recognized for community engagement about the need for translation and interpretation of health-care information


VCH has been recognized by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) for extensive community engagement in support of the VCH Translation and Interpretation project.

In the fall of 2020, VCH initiated a review of translation practices with the goal of supporting culturally-safe care and improving access to health information. Through engagement with relevant communities and stakeholders, VCH sought to identify ways to reduce language barriers and facilitate better understanding and distribution of written materials, as well as highlight opportunities to make improvements in the short and long term.

VCH serves a diverse patient population of more than 1.25 million people across 12 municipalities and four regional districts. VCH recognizes facilities, services, and personnel are on the traditional homelands of 14 First Nations communities. There are also three Métis Chartered communities within the VCH region. 

"Insights from this engagement will inform the creation of a regional framework that will enhance translation and interpretation practices across all our communities of care," noted Charlene Chiang, Vice President of Communications and Strategic Partnerships at Vancouver Coastal Health. "This will change the way our organization communicates with some of our most vulnerable patients and clients, and support culturally-safe, quality care by improving access to health information."

Data shows that around 1 in 3 (30%) B.C. residents have a mother tongue other than English or French. Based on 2016 Census, in areas served by VCH, 292,255 people speak a language other than English most commonly spoken at home, with the top five languages being Cantonese (97,375), Mandarin (72,590), Farsi (15, 310), Tagalog (14,940), and Punjabi (12,230).

Winning project in the category of diversity, inclusion and culture

On September 13, 2021, VCH was recognized as a leader in public engagement by IAP2, an international organization dedicated to advancing the practice of public participation. During the Core Values Awards, VCH's Translation Interpretation Engagement was awarded the 2021 accolade for Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture.

The engagement project was initiated with the creation of a working group with member representatives of community partners as well as staff and medical staff.

The project sought to involve diverse communities that rely on translation and interpretation to access health care and service providers because they witness first-hand the challenges that people with limited English fluency experience when trying to access care.
"The project team was very fortunate to be able to draw on the lived experience, knowledge and expertise of the working group members and incorporate their input into project planning," said Emina Dervisevic, Community Engagement Leader at Vancouver Coastal Health. "Early engagement ensured that research methods were appropriate for the communities we were trying to reach and that, despite challenges caused by the pandemic, we could hear from a wide variety of stakeholders."


Translation of COVID-19 immunization materials

The project was able to apply the learnings from the engagement starting in Phase 2 of B.C.'sCOVID-19 Immunization Plan as VCH translated key information to 11 languages. This project has expanded the relationships between VCH and community organizations providing services to newcomers and citizens who speak other languages. VCH has explored ways to provide translation and cultural navigation through volunteers at vaccination clinics, and to deliver both culturally-appropriate information and customized approaches to vaccinating Chinese-speaking seniors in Chinatown.

VCH has also collaborated with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to host webinars in Cantonese and Mandarin to provide information about COVID-19 and respond to any questions from Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking communities.

"It has been a wonderful experience for me to be a part of the VCH Translation and Interpretation Working Group," said Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. "I am looking forward to a continued partnership with VCH, and finding new and creative ways to deliver timely and relevant health care information to communities with limited English proficiency."

Translation beyond COVID-19 

In addition to continuing to provide translated COVID-19 information as needed, VCH plans to use the engagement findings to build a translation and interpretation framework. This framework will enable VCH to better connect and provide care for community members.

"We are so grateful for everyone who contributed to the Translation and Interpretation Engagement, from VCH staff and medical staff to community organizations to CEAN volunteers and community members," added Dervisevic. "Their time, knowledge, experience and expertise has positively impacted the way we communicate to our diverse communities and will have a tangible impact for many years to come."

Stay informed about the VCH Translation and Interpretation Engagement by following the project on Engage VCH.

Learn more

Read the Core Values Award submission for more detailed information about the engagement project.

SOURCE: VCH recognized for community engagement about the need for translation and interpretation of health-care information ( )
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