Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is a unique collaboration of health, research, aged care and advocacy organisations working together to improve the lives of older people.

Our vision is that older people received the best possible care and support through services, programs and policies which support health and optimal quality of life.

Logos of MARC partner organisations


The ability to convey essential care needs, communicate simple safety messages, and provide orientation cues are essential components of everyday care for older people. Those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds without proficient English may not receive equitable care if their healthcare workers do not speak their primary language. This study aims to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using existing translation technology for everyday communication between older people and their care workers who do not speak the same language.


  1. Scoping of existing translation applications.
  2. Exploring the use of translation technology with community-dwelling older people from CALD backgrounds.
  3. Exploring the use of translation technology with clinical staff at 3 hospitals.
  4. Piloting existing translation applications with older inpatients at 4 wards across 3 hospital sites. 


NARI, University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Health, St Vincent’s Hospital

Themes & Key Findings

  • Some iPad compatible apps may be suitable for everyday conversations in the healthcare setting.
  • Some nursing and allied health staff were using translation apps to communicate with patients with low-English proficiency.
  • Translation apps that work like a phrasebook with preset healthcare phrases work best.
  • Translation apps not suited to patients


  • The results of the scoping review found that three apps were suitable for low-risk healthcare communications: CALD Assist, TalkToMe and Google Translate.
  • Older People from CALD backgrounds and nursing and allied health staff both agree that translation apps could be useful as an adjunct to interpreters to improve basic healthcare communication needs.
  • Google Translate was not as effective as CALD Assist and TalkToMe, as the voice-to-voice translation function was cumbersome and inaccurate.
  • Some barriers encountered by healthcare staff during the trial included: inaccuracy of google translate, lack of language options, dialects, audio impairments of patients, and patients replying back in their native language.


  • Translation apps with preset healthcare phrases such as TalkToMe and CALD Assist may be used to communicate with a patient that has limited English proficiency.
  • Consider the suitability of translation apps with patients who have severe cognitive impairment, or have severe audio-visual problems.

Completed July 2019

SCOUTT Project Summary Infographic