French language services in the health-care system
In December 2013, a new French Language Services Act for Prince Edward Island was introduced that establishes clear obligations regarding the provision of services in French by government departments and agencies such as Health P.E.I.
The act also allows government and its agencies to determine which services are offered in French, based on the needs of the Acadian and francophone community, as well as government's capacity and resources to offer such services.
Receiving health services in French benefits both the patient/ and the health-care provider, as it leads to better patient safety and user satisfaction. Anyone receiving health information or instructions can confirm that receiving the information in a second language can be confusing, stressful and, ultimately, lead to users returning for further care as they may not have understood the information clearly enough due to language barriers.
Since the introduction of the French Language Services Act, Health P.E.I. has worked towards improving health-care services offered in French, among other languages. For instance, did you know the 8-1-1 health information service can be accessed in French for those seeking nonemergency health advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Health P.E.I. staff can now access language interpretation service to further improve patient safety, minimize risk issues and ensure the health information and treatment dialogue are clearly understood by both the health-care provider and the patient.
Also, Health P.E.I. is translating its website into French, making it easier for the French-speaking public to access information such as walk-in clinics, wait times and how to prepare for a hospital stay.
In addition to these current activities, Health P.E.I. is in the process of developing a survey that will capture an individual's preferred language of service. This September, every household across Prince Edward Island will be receiving a survey by mail. Individuals may also be surveyed at the time they renew their health card. The intent is to have the language information collected from the survey linked to your personal health number, which is the number on your health card used to access Medicare services. In the near future, an individual's preferred language of service will also be displayed on the new bilingual health cards. This will help health-care providers identify the preferred language of service.
Collecting language data will also help Health P.E.I. in planning for services. Knowing where individuals are accessing services in French is helpful and will better guide Health P.E.I. in identifying where bilingual health-care providers should be located. As an example, the new Summerset Manor in Summerside established a bilingual wing to support and accommodate the high number of Acadian and francophone residents.
To contact Health P.E.I. about this or other inquiries, call 902368-6130 or email healthinput@