Telephone interpreting is available 24 hours of the day and 365 days of the year providing a service for regular working hours including out of hour’s appointments, or situations where you cannot arrange a face to face interpreter. You should make good use of this facility where you have an emergency situation and an accredited face to face interpreter is not available. Language Empire have access to over 20,000 interpreters covering all languages and dialects, where this service is directly accessible for all practitioners.

In the case where a face to face interpreter is not available or due to short notice emergency requirements, telephone interpreting is always readily available.

  • Arranging appointments.
  • Informing your patient of appointment changes.
  • Conveying short messages.
  • Clarifying information.

In some situations when you know an interpreter well and you also know that your client is really against using a face to face interpreter, telephone interpreting can be a useful tool. In this case you should adapt your style to address the body language issues, e.g., you will have to make your interpreter aware of your patient’s body language, or in times where your patient is distressed, inform the interpreter that you are to take a few minutes silence and inform them your patient is upset etc.

Telephone interpreting is not recommended for long sessions within the mental health sphere as this is not always an adequate method for mental health sessions as body language cannot always be conveyed and can provide more detrimental to the patient. When you have a long session it will always be more productive to use a face to face interpreter.

  • Arrange where the session can be conducted as privately as possible.
  • Allow for extra time as information is being relayed and lines may not be clear.
  • Introduce yourself and the patient to the interpreter.
  • Identify if the patient and interpreter know each other in any way, if they do you must request another telephone interpreter to be used.
  • If it is an emergency situation, you should inform the interpreter of this.
  • Provide the telephone interpreter with a briefing of the situation.
  • You should inform the telephone interpreter of the type of handset you are using to conduct this session for example: is it a single phone that is required to be passed from person to person, is it a conference call where more than one person is connected via the telephone line or is it dual handset. This information will help the interpreter identify who they are talking to and how.
  • You should indicate the setting you are working in, for example: an office, hospital ward or a reception desk.
  • Make arrangements so that you can take notes from this session.
  • Speak in short sentences, avoiding using complicated words and jargon terms.
  • Being extremely clear in what you say, as it may be more difficult or unclear for an interpreter to hear over the phone.
  • Speak directly to the patient, for example, “How can I help you today?” Not, “Ask how I can help them today!”
  • Check that your patient has understood all communication and messages from this session.
  • Make use of the telephone interpreter to book any follow up appointments for your patient.
  • You should thank your patient and explain you may need to have a debriefing with the telephone interpreter.
  • You should make sure your interpreter has a debrief as you would for a face to face interpreter, covering any emotionally taxing issues and clarifying any questions they may have.
  • Be prepared to provide feedback on the telephone interpreting service you have received.
  • You should ensure all the information you need has been collected before the interpreter goes off the line as there will be no other opportunity to speak to the patient when the interpreter has hung up.

For additional good practice guidelines when using an interpreter see the above section of ‘During an Appointment’.

Language Empire has different provisions for telephone interpreting dependent upon our client’s needs. Should you require this service, contact our office where our Account Managers can help you with your requirements and guide you on using this service.