Over 130 staff at QEII Hospital are taking part in a new Language Badge Initiative, wearing badges during their shift to indicate to patients what languages they can speak other than English.
Over 35 languages, including Auslan, are currently supported by QEII staff with more team members putting their hands up to take part.
Resource and Training officer, Guy Hancock, said Metro South Health is one of the most culturally diverse health regions in Queensland with 28 per cent of the population born overseas where English is not their first language.
“The average number of culturally and linguistically diverse patients presenting to QEII Hospital’s Emergency Department is 23 per cent, and they represent 22 per cent of all patients admitted to the hospital.
“The cultural diversity of the QEII catchment is one of the highest in Queensland and can make communication difficult when language barriers are encountered,” he said.
The QEII Language Badge Project began as a trial in February this year but has quickly gathered momentum and popularity to a full rollout across QEII where staff who speak languages other than English, wear a badge identifying their languages for patients and visitors to the hospital.
“The project is translating well across the facility with more wards, Allied Health, Nurse Navigators and support staff adopting the language badges every week. Other health services are also keen to progress our initiative in their own facilities,” Guy said.
QEII Occupational Therapist and Spanish speaker, Michael Tay, has noted a change in patient interactions since the badge initiative began.
"Patients being able to speak their language with staff helps them to feel reassured; they feel calmer,” he said.
A priority for Metro South Health is to hire a workforce that reflects its community; a vision shared by the Executive Director of the Office of the Director General, Jasmina Joldic who conceived the initiative.
"The Multicultural Champions initiative has come about from a patient centred issue close to my heart,” said Jasmina.
“I visited QEII to meet some of the participants in the Language Badge Initiative in August and was delighted to see the staff wearing their badges proudly.
“The work being done at QEII to bring this project to life is fantastic. It's been deeply moving to see how much of a positive impact this project has already had on patients and staff.”