New, Sponsored Standard to Have Positive Effect in Canada and Abroad: SSF

July 2, 2017

Communication in Minority Language Situations Standard will contribute to better health systems: Société Santé en français (SSF)

SSF TeamHealth Standards Organization (HSO) and SSF recently announced a new collaboration to co-create a new health standard and an Organizational Competency Recognition Program designed to better protect patients in linguistic minority situations.

“We want a standard that contributes to a better health system,” Michel Tremblay, Executive Director at SSF says. “We want it to meet the needs of patients and citizens everywhere.”

The SSF hopes that, once established, the standard and the recognition program will serve as an exemplary model not only for health organizations in Canada, but around the world.

Tremblay notes that the new standard and program result from research done by SSF since 2010, which looked at various studies including Cultural and Adapted Linguistic Standards (CLAS) in the United States.

“These are very prescriptive standards,” Tremblay says. “But basically, they say that to provide good health care, we must know our cultural and linguistic environment and be able to adapt to meet people’s needs.”

He adds that many studies found that when care instructions were not given in people’s mother tongue, they were not properly understood by patients and their families.

Tremblay said that once the research was completed, SSF looked for an organization to partner with and reached out to HSO and its affiliate, Accreditation Canada (AC). He notes that SSF was looking for a partner organization who worked across Canada and who had the ability to establish such a standard.

Tremblay says SSF is proud of the partnership it has with AC and HSO: “It’s a very credible organization.”

Initially, the new standard – which is being sponsored by SSF and developed through a co-design process with HSO – aims to ensure that Language minority groups in Canada, such as French Canadians and Acadian minority communities, have access to linguistically appropriate health services across the continuum of care.

Tremblay says the hope is that the standard will be adopted system-wide, by all provinces and territories.

He says several national partners have begun telling SSF that linguistically adapted services for communities in minority language situations is a good thing to do.

“It’s good for quality, safety and patient care,” Tremblay said.

He adds that SSF hopes the new standard will have a positive effect, working as a model of excellence to inspire other organizations in other geographic areas.

“Because some succeed, others will want to do it,” Tremblay says. “We want others to be able to develop their own approach and by using an existing model, develop services that meet the needs of the local community.”

The standard and recognition program are in the early stages of development. HSO is currently recruiting members for its Communication in Health Services Technical Committee.

Technical committees are made up of patients and families, product users, policy makers and those with a general interest in the standard being developed. Made up of 16 members from diverse backgrounds, these committees are responsible for steering the development or revision of an HSO standard.

HSO currently has eight technical committees. You can learn more here.

Stay tuned for announcements on their composition!