Project funded $580m to develop dementia training for interpreters

A research institute has received more than half a million dollars to establish specialist training for interpreters to improve cognitive assessment for dementia.

A National Ageing Research Institute study has received funding to develop an online training program for interpreters in six languages to improve cognitive assessment for dementia for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The MINDSET study has received $580,000 from multiple sources to conduct a three-year study with interpreters, clinicians, CALD people with dementia and their carers to co-design, trial, and implement training in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Greek and Italian.

The training program aims to familiarise interpreters with all aspects of dementia and its impact on cognitive and linguistic ability, the tools used to assess and diagnose dementia, and effective interpreting strategies for cognitive assessments.

Study chief investigator Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath said the project responded to an identified need for support.

“Interpreters report that older people who don’t speak English are increasingly presenting for cognitive assessment for dementia, which they have to help interpret that assessment. And they’ve realised that… their skills and knowledge in the area may not be what it needs to be,” Associate Professor Brijnath told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath

The need will increase as the proportion of older CALD Australians is expected to rise, she said.

“At the moment, they’re about 30 per cent of Australia’s older population, but in the years to come, we project an increase of about 200 per cent by 2050,” said Associate Professor Brijnath, director of social gerontology at NARI.

She said interpreters will learn:

  • the correct terminology for dementia
  • what dementia symptoms include
  • common phrases that older people having a cognitive assessment may need
  • the Code of Ethics for interpreters.

“We hope that every interpreter in Australia is able to avail themselves of training that increases their knowledge of dementia, so that they can actually facilitate a good quality, reliable, consistent session for a person who may have dementia to help them get a more timely diagnosis.”

The first stage of the study will involve 12 months of co-designing the components of the training and assessing the skills of interpreters using simulations, Associate Professor Brijnath said.

“We’re going to write up a film script with interpreters, older people and clinicians around how this assessment might unfold, and what an interpreter should be doing because those assessments will form the basis of the trial,” she said.

Once the training has been established and proven effective, it is expected to be available to all interpreters in Australia. 

The project has received a $270,000 the National Health and Medical Research Council Project Partners grant and financial contributions from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, Dementia Australia, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators, All Graduates Interpreting and Translating, Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership and the Sydney Local Health District.

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Tags: Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath, cald, cald seniors, cognitive assessment, culturally and linguistically diverse, dementia, interpreters, nari, National Health and Medical Research Council Project Partners grant, national-ageing-research-institute, nhmrc, research,

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