The Southern Health Trust has recruited a bilingual Speech and Language Therapy Assistant – the first in Northern Ireland – to help meet the needs of the growing Polish population in the area.
Magdalena Gorajska is greatly helping to improve the outcomes for Polish children and young people and saves the need to book an interpreter for appointments.
Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young People’s Services for the Southern Trust, explained: “In the Southern area we have the largest BME population in Northern Ireland and this continues to rise. We want to ensure the health and wellbeing of our whole population by giving everyone living in our community the same access to our services and always do our best to overcome any cultural or language barriers.
“Effective speech therapy with bilingual clients can take considerably more time and resources than when the therapist and the client share the same language and culture.
“As over half of our bilingual speech therapy clients use Polish as their first language, we knew that having a bilingual assistant would be a great asset to the team.”
Magda provides interpreting services for Speech Therapy sessions with Polish clients and is able to give very specific and detailed feedback to the therapist on the child’s language skills.
She has also been instrumental in translating resources into Polish which are given to parents for ongoing development of language skills within the home environment.
Feedback on the service has been very positive.
Hilary McFaul, Speech and Language Therapy Manager for the Trust, added: “Having Magda on the team means that our Speech and Language Therapists can now spend much more time on the actual therapy than on preparation and follow-up.
“Parents and children are also much more at ease as they build a rapport with Magda and there is a better continuity of treatment than there would be if there was a different interpreter each time. So overall the therapy sessions are much more effective.”