Research calls for translation of aged care assessment tools for CALD community

Western Sydney University

New research by Western Sydney University has identified the need to translate psychosocial assessment tools, which measure social ability and well-being, used in aged care environments into multiple languages. This translation is crucial for the effective evaluation of social engagement and quality of life in older adults receiving aged care services.

The research revealed that cultural appropriateness significantly impacted the delivery of questions within the assessment tools. This included difficulties such as the lack of terms for unique places of worship, outdated language such as references to reading newspapers, and differing priorities in social and wellbeing matters between Western and Eastern cultures.

Lead researcher Dr Joyce Siette, from Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, said adequate translation methodologies are essential to facilitating effective assessment in aged care services.

“When we looked at the quality-of-life tool, there was a question concerning ‘love and pleasure’ that, in the initial translation to Chinese, was associated with sexual experiences and values. However, this should instead reflect enjoyment and happiness,” said Dr Siette.

“Similarly, in the social participation tool, the terms ‘immediate household’ and ‘extended family’ showed variations across cultural contexts, particularly in cases where multi-generational families challenged the traditional definition of a household. Participants’ understanding of ‘extended family’ occasionally blurred with that of immediate family, leading to complexities in interpretation.

“Given the diverse ethnic backgrounds of aged care clients, we formally translated versions of the assessment tools in Korean, Turkish and Mandarin, the primary languages spoken by clients of an Australian community aged care provider.”

Staff feedback identified that the formally translated tool versions eased administration for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) clients, enabling them to independently interpret questions, resulting in improved questionnaire completion rates.

When older adults enter aged care services or receive community care, they undergo routine assessments of their physical and cognitive capabilities to determine the need for updates to their care plans or additional services.

“The research highlights the importance of accurate data collection regarding social participation and quality of life so that providers know whether services are effective in maintaining and boosting clients’ wellbeing or if they’re experiencing a decline and there is a need for intervention,” said Dr Siette.

Aged care service providers are urged to prioritise the translation and cultural adaptation of psychosocial assessment tools into languages spoken by their diverse client base to assist with accurate and meaningful data collection.

The translated versions of the psychosocial aged care assessment tools are now ready for implementation and can be accessed for use – interested providers should ask the developers for permission.

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