Interpreting within the Western Cape health care sector : a descriptive overview

Saulse, Bernice (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Afrikaans and Dutch))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Over the past decade many studies have shown that ad hoc interpreting services are still the norm for the health care sector in the South African context. The health care sector of South Africa, specifically in the Western Cape, is characterised by primarily Afrikaans- and English-speaking doctors, or medical practitioners in general, who do not understand Xhosaspeaking patients. In order to bridge this language gap, ad hoc interpreting services are employed, which are rendered by family members of a patient, nurses, or at times, even by porters or cleaners. As a result of the fact that these ad hoc interpreters lack training in interpreting theory and practice, they tend to distort communication, which impact negatively on the quality of the health care that the patient receives. This consequent lack of quality in health care can therefore directly be related to the quality of the interpreted utterances or product that the interpreter renders. Even though ad hoc interpreters are generally more used in the health care sector, some hospitals employ professionally trained interpreters to relieve the burden of a language barrier. In 1996, due to the erratic nature of health care interpreting services and language barriers between medical practitioners and patients, the National Language Project trained 22 community interpreters to be placed in hospitals within the boundaries of the Western Cape. Three of these interpreters were placed at Tygerberg Hospital, three at Groote Schuur Hospital, and three at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. By 2008 none remained in Tygerberg Hospital, one was still employed by Groote Schuur Hospital, and two employed by Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. In 2007, Groote Schuur Hospital identified a need to train and place interpreters within the hospital, due to the language barrier between medical practitioners and patients, as well as to optimise health care. These trainees were formerly employed by the hospital in positions such as cleaners. Even though they were then professionally trained, they were still remunerated as cleaners, for example. In addition to the two interpreters employed at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, another interpreter was employed on a full-time basis. Some departments within the hospital make use of their own interpreters, who are not employed by the hospital. Tygerberg Hospital has one officially employed interpreter who is a nursing assistant by profession, and who has received no training in interpreting whatsoever. The aim of this study was firstly to investigate interpreting practices within these three tertiary hospitals, and secondly to investigate the quality of the interpreted product delivered by the interpreters at these hospitals, whether on an ad hoc basis or as professionally trained interpreters. The outcomes of the quality of the interpreted product, measured against a quality table, were compared with the attitudes of medical practitioners, interpreters and patients present in an interpreting session. This was done to determine whether the actual quality of the interpreted product took precedence over the attitudes of the role players, or vice versa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Oor die afgelope dekade het ’n aantal studies aangedui dat ad hoc-tolkdienste steeds die norm vir die gesondheidsektor binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks is. Die Suid-Afrikaanse gesondheidsektor, veral in die Wes-Kaap, word hoofsaaklik gekenmerk deur Afrikaans- en Engelssprekende dokters, of mediese praktisyns oor die algemeen, wat nie hul Xhosasprekende pasiënte verstaan nie. Om hierdie taalgaping te oorbrug, word ad hoc-tolkdienste gebruik wat gelewer word deur ’n pasiënt se familielede, verpleegsters en soms selfs portiers of skoonmakers. Omdat hierdie ad hoc-tolke geen opleiding in tolkteorie en -praktyk ontvang het nie, is hulle geneig om kommunikasie te verdraai. Dit lei daartoe dat die gesondheidsorg wat die pasiënt kry, nie na wense is nie. Die gebrek aan kwaliteit van die gesondheidsorg wat die pasiënt ontvang, hou dus direk verband met die kwaliteit van die tolkuitinge of -produk wat die tolk lewer. Ten spyte daarvan dat ad hoc-tolke meer algemeen in die gesondheidsektor gebruik word, het sommige hospitale tolke aangestel wat professioneel opgelei is om die taalgaping te verminder. As gevolg van die wisselvallige gehalte van tolking in die gesondheidsektor en taalgapings tussen mediese praktisyns en pasiënte, het die National Language Project (NLP) in 1996 22 gemeenskapstolke opgelei wat in hospitale binne die Wes-Kaap geplaas sou word. Drie van hierdie tolke is by die Tygerberg Hospitaal geplaas, drie by die Groote Schuur Hospitaal en drie by die Rooikruis Kinderhospitaal. In 2008 was daar nie meer een van hierdie tolke by die Tygerberg Hospitaal nie, een was steeds in diens by die Groote Schuur Hospitaal en twee by die Rooikruis Kinderhospitaal. In 2007 het die Groote Schuur Hospitaal ’n behoefte geïdentifiseer om tolke op te lei en binne die hospitaal te plaas omdat daar ’n taalgaping was tussen mediese praktisyns en pasiënte, asook om gesondheidsorg te optimaliseer. Hierdie persone wat opleiding ontvang het, was voorheen in diens van die hospitaal as byvoorbeeld skoonmakers. Selfs nadat hulle professionele tolkopleiding ontvang het, het hulle steeds besoldiging as skoonmakers ontvang. Buiten die twee tolke wat by die Rooikruis Kinderhospitaal in diens is, is nog ’n tolk voltyds aangestel. Sommige departemente binne die hospitaal gebruik hul eie tolke wat nie deur die hospitaal aangestel is nie. Tygerberg Hospitaal het een amptelike tolk, wat eintlik ’n verpleegassistent is, en wat hoegenaamd geen tolkopleiding ontvang het nie. Hierdie studie het dit ten doel om tolkpraktyk eerstens binne bogenoemde drie tersiêre hospitale te ondersoek, en tweedens om die kwaliteit van die tolkproduk by hierdie hospitale te ondersoek, hetsy die opleiding op ’n ad hoc- of professionele basis geskied het. Die kwaliteit van die tolkproduk, gemeet teen ’n kwaliteitstabel, is vergelyk met die sienswyses van die mediese praktisyns, tolke en pasiënte wat teenwoordig was in ’n tolksessie, om te bepaal of die kwaliteit van die tolkproduk voorkeur geniet het bo die sienswyses van die rolspelers, en omgekeerd.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4213
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