Funded by the NHMRC, the MINDSET Study aims to improve the quality of interpreter communication in a cognitive assessment for dementia. We are undertaking this work because our research found that interpreters were servicing increasing numbers of people with dementia but had variable experience and knowledge about dementia. This resulted in inconsistencies in interpreting which reduced the validity of cognitive assessments, diminished clinician and patient satisfaction, and overburdened health services. Subsequently, interpreters themselves recognised the need for specialist training in dementia.

Our solution is to work with interpreters, clinicians, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people with dementia, and their carers to co-design, trial, and implement online training targeted at interpreters. Training would familiarise interpreters with all aspects of dementia and its impact on cognitive and linguistic ability; explain the tools used to assess and diagnose dementia; and engage interpreters with effective interpreting strategies for cognitive assessments.

The outcomes of this study realise a key priority in the NHMRC’s National Institute of Dementia Research CALD Action Plan, to “Inform effective ways to train frontline... staff on how culture influences dementia.” With a more than 200% projected growth in the proportion of older CALD Australians by 2056, there will be a rise in the number of non-English speaking people living with dementia. The national benefit of this study is that it will enable interpreters to be prepared and confident in performing their role impartially, effectively, and accurately.

The training will ultimately sit on the National Accreditation Authority for Translators & Interpreters (NAATI) website and provide opportunity for every interpreter working with older CALD Australians to access training in interpreter mediated cognitive assessment for dementia.