When your interpreter has arrived and is waiting for the appointment to begin it is very important that you have a briefing with the interpreter before the patient is invited into the room. Subjects to be discussed in this pre-appointment briefing should include:

  • What type of appointment this is, i.e. first session, follow up session, admission etc.
  • If it is a follow up session, where is the referral from?
  • What is going to be discussed during the session?
  • Address any problems which may have occurred with this patient previously.
  • Discuss any cultural factors that could impact upon the session.
  • You should expect the interpreter to clarify their role with you.

Reviewing the contents of the session allows the interpreter to have all this information before the appointment beings, allowing them to feel more comfortable and prepared in this setting. This procedure allows the interpreter to ask any questions they may have surrounding a certain issue, to clarify terminology or even to express discomfort surrounding certain topics.

If the patient has had violent outbursts in the past for example, the interpreter will have a better understanding that this could happen again. If this is a follow up appointment and the patient has had a violent history it would be a good idea to think about some sort of security being present or an easy escape route for both yourself as the practitioner and the interpreter.

You should establish whether or not family and friends are to be permitted into the session. Allowing family members into the appointment can often lead to a failed session. If a patient’s family or friends are present they may be less likely to convey what they actually think and feel in fear of embarrassment or upsetting their family or friends. You are more likely to get a clear picture and a true response when the patient is in the appointment on their own. You should decide whether you are to invite the family or friends into the appointment at a later stage of the session.

For BSL patients the above section regarding family and friends may not be applicable. Often BSL patients will require family members to be present at the time of their appointment. This should be checked with each individual patient as to what their preference is.

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