June 24, 2007

Communication in indegenous care - examples fromYol\u and Balanda

Naomi Havens is an Occupational Therapist who is now based at Galiwin’ku and is training as an educator with Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS). Her co-worker is Gurima\u.

I’m Naomi (Havens) and I’ve trained as an Occupational Therapist (OT) and spent a little bit of time working as an Occupational Therapist.

I’ve been asked to talk about communication as an OT and later on go on to about what our experience out here in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island. Something that I had a lot of as an OT was working with families of different cultures, I worked with a Yol\u family, and I worked with families from Asia, from the Middle East and from other places.

And a big challenge that we had in our work was being able to understand each other, understanding what they were trying to say and trying to get our message across to identify problems, to come up with suitable solutions that were manageable, workable.
And with a lot of other cultures we had interpreters that we could work with.
We had the interpreting service and they were able to translate stuff into paper, work for us into, be there to attend meetings and to get the understanding- but when it came to working with Yol\u, we didn’t always have that. So that was a big challenge but it does,.. the difference that you had when you did have someone that spoke the language and understood what was actually happening, even the things that you didn’t realise.

Sometimes you walked away and you knew that you didn’t quite get it , you didn’t quite understand completely what they were trying to say and you didn’t feel you completely understood but at least having the interpreter there, afterwards you could talk about it later and realise that.. yeah .. you had missed so many things or misunderstood so many things that they had been saying.

But definitely when there is no interpreter there, or there is no-one there that really understands those unwritten, unspoken messages that the miscommunication can be quite, quite significant.

So.. when I was working with this Yol\u family I spent a lot of time saying something but then hearing back what they were understanding from it and working things a bit differently so that it gave them every opportunity for them to understand what I was trying to say but also for me to understand what was coming back from them.

One person at the hospital described the results that we had from working that way was the best results that they had ever seen in a Yol\u child. So it definitely it took a lot longer and it was done a little bit differently, had to be a lot more flexible, but the overall result was the most satisfying experience that I have had as an OT.

The Thermometer Story

The Thermometer Story – Ba=umbil explains why it is important for health staff not to rely only on the information obtained from test results - but to listen to patients and respect their knowledge about their own health.

The Balanda has to listen to Yol\u voice, not the thermometer.
Yol\u voice we need to you know.. we want the doctors to accept our language because that word has to come out from our mouth and tell the doctors what needs to be done - beforehand.

Not just … you know relying on thermometer and saying ‘Yow, yow’.. everything is alright now. Unless you know.. they have to accept our.. accept us, full story from the Yol\u because that person he has got, he or she is sick, and they need to listen to that person instead of.. just, you know….. taking the thermometer or blood pressure or whatever and saying to you everything looks alright.

You know and telling us, you can .. you know keep on drinking this or take this for the time being and that - that is not helping us because they have to accept us.. because we can feel within our body what is going on.

That is why I mention that doctors to accept our word, not accept the thermometer, our word,,,,,,,,,

Taken from www.sharingtruestories.com

1 comment:

Alia said...

Thanks for writing this.