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USING FAMILY AND FRIENDS AS AN INTERPRETER

When we talk about an un-accredited interpreter this is the term given to family, friends or other people who are not trained in interpreting and have not gained any interpreting qualifications.

Dependent upon your organisation you may already have a procedure in place where you do not accept un-accredited interpreters to interpret for your patients at all. Where you do not have a procedure in place please follow this guide below.

We strongly advise that family and friends of the patient are not used for interpreting. If a family member or a friend is insisting on interpreting for your patient, you should try to persuade them that it is in their best interests to use an accredited interpreter. (The same as the section above ‘Refusal To Use An Accredited Interpreter’).

It may be important to note that the NHS code of ethics states that you are not permitted to use family and friends as interpreters as it is bad practice, even if the client is requesting this. Also in terms of client confidentiality, safeguarding issues and consent, it is important not to use family members, this is covered in more detail below.

In some communities, patients may not be aware they can access interpreting services, this can lead to a patient being unfamiliar with the procedures of using an interpreter when accessing mental health services.

  • You should highlight the benefits of using an accredited interpreter i.e. the accuracy of information being interpreted and the impartiality of the interpreter who is not known to the patient.
  • You should stress to your patient that the interpreter like yourself is bound to strict confidentiality agreements and topics or issues discussed will not be spoke of outside of the consultation room.
  • Indicate that the family member or friend, who they wish to interpret for them, can still be present as a support if they require this, without them having the burden of interpreting and aiding in communication.
  • You should emphasise that the use of the interpreter is to assist yourself, in gaining all the necessary information to provide a thorough assessment and diagnosis, not to judge the patient. By using an accredited interpreter you and your patient will be confident that the information discussed is accurate.
  • You should make it clear to your patient that you have a legal obligation to ensure that they receive effective communication through an accredited interpreter when you feel it is required.

You should only use accredited interpreters as they have studied and worked towards their qualifications in interpreting. Most commonly family and friends have never trained in the interpreting sphere and do not hold qualifications for carrying out this task.

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