Going the extra mile

I conference called a service user with a SIS interpreter to find out more details about her appointment.

The service user didn’t know how to get to her mental health appointment. I gave her the address, but she wanted to know how to get there. I knew that the interpreter, who was on the line with me, had been to that venue many times before. I asked if he could explain how to get to the venue.

He spoke with the service user in Arabic, and then explained to me what had been said. He managed this three-way conversation really well, explaining to me and the service user what was happening at all times, and keeping us both involved. He checked with the service user that she understood how to get there, and if she needed any more help.

Then the service user asked if she could bring her young child to the appointment. I knew that wouldn’t really be appropriate but in the moment I wasn’t sure what to tell her. I knew the interpreter had a lot of experience in mental health settings so I asked him for his advice. He said, “it’s not really appropriate to bring a child along to a mental health appointment, but, if she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her child, I think the most important thing is that she attends her appointment.” I agreed with the interpreter that was good advice, and asked him to communicate that to the service user.  He did that and then brought me in to the conversation again, explaining to me what had been said.

By having this conversation via conference call, we were able to discuss the appointment in detail and the service user could ask questions and express herself fully. I was so grateful for the interpreter’s knowledge and expertise in that call!

SIS has always encouraged our service users to self-refer.  We then conference telephone call with an interpreter to check appointment details with them where there is room for confusion.  This also involves checking details with the department where the interpreter is needed.  This is important as appointment letters are not routinely translated.  This process of `going the extra mile` minimises missed appointments and saves money.