Breaking down language barriers for family practices across BC

Apr 5, 2018 | News

The Provincial Language Service (PLS) is a PHSA program that provides interpreting and translation services to BC health authorities and private physician offices for their linguistically diverse clients and clients who are deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing. PLS is reaching out with how-to materials to help BC family practices quickly and easily access qualified interpreters over the telephone for patients with limited English proficiency.

In collaboration with the BC Ministry of Health, it launched the Primary Care Telephone Interpreting Service Pilot Project on October 1, 2017, to determine the demand for telephone interpreting services in family practices across BC. There’s no cost to use interpreting services as part of this pilot. Telephone interpreting service may be used by members of a family practice team (i.e. family physicians, nurses, MOAs, etc.) for direct patient care or administrative purposes, such as providing a patient with information about a referral to a specialist.

Each division of family practice has a unique access code to access interpreters over the phone. Along with this information, we’re also sending out a reference card which includes quick steps and helpful tips on accessing and working with an interpreter over the telephone. If the division of family practice is not participating in this program, this service is still available to an independent family practice by contacting Once a Terms of Service document has been signed, appropriate access information related to the pilot project will be provided.

Professional interpreters can enhance safety and provide equitable access for patients by improving comprehension and reducing errors. They follow rigorous standards for accuracy, impartiality and confidentiality, and can enhance satisfaction with care by taking away the burden of ensuring effective communication between the patient and the health care provider.

Visit to watch a short how-to video on using this service. A list of languages, best practice information and other details on PLS’s interpreting services are also available on the site.

Family practice teams may contact their division of family practice or refer to the access card from the Provincial Language Service for their toll-free number and access code.

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