Monday 21st December 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Winter 2015
Urology nurse Kathleen MacKenzie on her experiences of using translation services.
My name is Kathleen MacKenzie. I’m a urology clinical nurse specialist based in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, which is the main acute hospital in the Highlands of Scotland. The urology team consists of five urologists and three specialist nurses, delivering urology services to a population of 320,300. Over the last 10 to 15 years there has been a population increase, with many families from Eastern European countries settling in the Highlands.
Part of my role is to support patients with bladder and renal cancer. I attend clinics with the urologists, so that I can be there when the patient is given information about their diagnosis and treatment. After a patient has spoken to their consultant, I spend time with them, going over their information and giving them the opportunity to ask further questions.
We have Polish-speaking patients who do not speak or understand much English. However, there are ways of overcoming the challenge. I have found some methods to be more effective than others, and it often depends on the situation. Here I’ve described two examples – one very successful and one not so good.
A Polish lady in her early 50s had bladder cancer. After being treated for years, her cancer had progressed and she now needed further treatment. She did not speak much English, and although her daughter did, she did not want her to attend appointments, as she knew she was going to get bad news. We arranged for an interpreter to attend the appointment. She was excellent at translating the information and facilitating a conversation between patient and consultant.
I then took them both to a separate room to talk more with the help of the interpreter. I gave her the Macmillan booklet on her condition and told her I would try to get some Polish information. I contacted Macmillan about this and they responded very quickly. Within a fortnight I was sent some translated pages from the booklet. I feel the support we were able to offer this patient was the same as we’d offer to an English-speaking patient.
On another occasion, we had booked an interpreter for a patient but unfortunately they couldn’t make it. Instead, we used our hospital’s telephone interpretation service on speakerphone. This was the method used to tell the patient she had renal cancer and required surgery. The information was delivered effectively, but I was unable to spend much more time with her due to not having access to a speakerphone in another area.
I think the telephone interpretation service definitely has its place, as it is far more cost-effective. However in my opinion, it was too impersonal for delivering information about a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Contacting Macmillan with translation requests
I would certainly encourage other health professionals to contact Macmillan with any translation requests. In my experience, I obtained the translation I needed in a timely fashion.
Macmillan has a large range of translated cancer information in various languages at macmillan.org.uk/translations
If you can’t find what you need, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Kathleen MacKenzie, Urology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.
Continue reading In Focus: Creating patient information for everyone
Equal access to health information - We need to make sure people with particular needs don’t lack information about cancer, Abigail Howse writes.
Facing cancer as a deaf person - Abigail Howse, Macmillan Quality and Improvement Officer, recently visited the charity DEAFvibe in Staffordshire to find out what it’s like to go through cancer if you are deaf.
Supporting patients whose first language is not English - Urology nurse Kathleen MacKenzie on her experiences of using translation services.
Using video to reach more people - Videos are a great way to reach a range of audiences with information, writes Abi Delderfield, Macmillan Quality and Improvement Lead.