Multilingual App Improves Communication Between Residents and Staff

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Tanya Klochkov, Social Worker

Project Title: Multilingual Communication Tool for Point of Care Staff Working with Non-English-Speaking Older Adults Including Dementia Patients

What is the issue?

Many residents in long-term care homes, including those with dementia, do not speak English. Language barriers make it difficult for them to express their needs and understand their care workers. As a result, they may behave inappropriately.

What did we do?

We developed a mobile device application called Care Talk in collaboration with QoC Health and professional interpreters. Staff helped determine the topics, content, and the languages we included alongside visual and audio cues. A total of 43 staff workers used Care Talk for two to four weeks with residents living in the Apotex long-term care home at Baycrest who do not speak English as a first language. We evaluated the benefits of Care Talk through surveys and focus group interviews.

What did we find?

Care Talk is easy to use and helped the residents communicate with care workers better during routine care. Staff said the application is easy to use and increased their confidence when providing care. Residents experienced better moods, less agitation, and exhibited fewer inappropriate behaviours. There was less need for interpreters, visual aids, family members, and body language when care workers used Care Talk.