Meeting a telephone interpreting need is not always straight forward.
NHS staff do not always have the facility or equipment necessary to conference call patients; There may be data protection and privacy considerations to work around, and complicated further where the Service User is suffering from a mental health crisis.
In such instances clinicians may have no choice but to delegate and rely on SIS to help them communicate and reach out to the patient.
We have seen an increase in calls being made to SIS by the Mental Health Rapid Response Service (MHRRS) and who need urgent assistance to contact patients referred to them.
On all such occasions SIS, with the support of our linguist, will exert all effort to help.
Once such example is given below.
We were contacted by the Mental Health Rapid Response Service (MHRRS) on a Friday evening. They alerted that a referral had been made to them that afternoon from a GP for an Arabic speaking patient who expressed he was suicidal.
- They had a telephone number for the patient but no way of communicating with him. They wanted to book a telephone interpreting session and undertake a screening assessment urgently
- SIS offered (through the assistance of an interpreter) to contact the Service User and explain to him that the MHRRS were trying to reach him.
- We attempted intermittently but unsuccessfully over a period of 3 hours that evening to contact the Service User. We left messages in Arabic. Having failed to contact him we agreed with the MHRRT that we would try again the following day.
- We liaised with the MHRRS the following morning and agreed a designated time for a screening call. The interpreter again attempted several times to reach the Service User.
- We finally made contact with the patient after several hours of trying. He was was distressed and crying. The interpreter explained the reason for the call, and briefed the patient on how the telephone assessment was to take place.
- A mental health screening call was subsequently successfully undertaken using the SIS Group Call facility; this allowed all three parties (the professional, interpreter and patient) to be conferenced into a call together privately and securely for the assessment.
- Following the call, a post session call was facilitated between the MHRRS staff and SIS interpreter to clarify and check accuracy of information provided by the patient.
- We later supported messaging by the MHRRS to the Service User to reassure him that he was being referred to the community mental health team for a fuller assessment to determine what the most appropriate treatment for him.
- We also took the opportunity to reiterate that in an emergency he could get urgent support by going to A&E where there are mental health staff who could see him.
Our response above, reflects a difference in approach and values which a charity like SIS works to, and which is unlikely to be mirrored by private national telephone providers.
SIS is fortunate to have individuals who are driven always by care and compassion towards their fellow human beings and wanting to help their local community.
The interpreter gave much of his time over a weekend helping someone who was in need. Such liaison work does not generally fall within the remit of a community interpreting session.
This generosity of spirit from linguists allows SIS to act as a safety net for vulnerable Service Users during this pandemic.
We feel rewarded knowing the patient stated ‘he would not harm himself’ to the mental health professional at the end of the assessment.
We were thanked by the MHRRS for having helped to set up the interpreting with this Service User. .
The mental health professional commented the interpreter had been
“exceptionally helpful and his efforts to contact and liaise with the Service User before and after the session today are much appreciated and have helped us to be able to do our job. We would have been completely lost without him!”
We couldn’t agree more!