► Awareness Campaign Quality Health Care: Language Matters Too!
What it’s all about?
Réseau santé albertain has launched a campaign to promote the benefits of providing and receiving linguistically appropriate care. Efforts are directed at health care professionals and others in the health care system willing and able to engage Francophone patients in their language. At the same time, we are encouraging patients to voice their need for French-language health services.
Largest Investment in Our Organization’s History
From September 2015 through to 2018, we will reach out through various channels and conduits to raise awareness, foster understanding and engage audiences across the province. The challenge is threefold: to encourage health care professionals to engage in the active offer of French-language services; to generate patient demand for such services and; to encourage policy- and decision-makers in the health care system to respond to the very real and pressing needs of Alberta’s French-speaking population.
Why is this important?
Pressing Health Needs
Our research shows that there are many and growing health needs in the French-speaking population; these are most pressing in young families and the elderly.
As French-speaking newcomers and cultural communities continue to grow in numbers, so does their need for health care. Needs related to disease prevention and health promotion are just as evident in all segments of the French-speaking population
Very Few French-language services, If Any
In response to growing and pressing needs, Réseau santé albertain, with the support of health partners and community champions, is implementing a three-pronged strategy:
1. Encourage health care professionals who speak French to let their patients / clients know and engage them in their language;
2. Encourage patient demand for French-language services (many are reluctant to do so for fear of compromising the quality of care);
3. Encourage the health care system to respond to this population’s health needs as part of its strong commitment to provide patient-centered care.
Benefits of Linguistically Appropriate Care
Studies confirm that language and culture are key components of providing quality health care.
Effective communication between physician and patient has been shown to have a positive impact all-around, e.g., shorter visits, less reliance on emergency services, improved quality of care, satisfaction and health outcomes.
For our health care system, that translates into a better use of our resources, greater effectiveness and lower health care costs.
What does Réseau santé albertain hope to achieve?
Improved access to French-language health services, especially primary health care. Continued collaboration with the health care system for the purpose of tailoring programming and services to the specifics needs of Alberta’s French-speaking population.
Alberta’s health care system provides linguistically appropriate care to its French-speaking population, because it recognizes language as a key component of providing patient-centered care that produces many benefits for patients, health care professionals and the system itself.
How long will the campaign last?
It will roll out in cyclical waves starting in 2015 through to 2018.
As a first step, Réseau santé albertain held a consultation, gathering input and ideas from leaders and representatives of key sectors including school boards, youth, seniors, women, health care professionals, government, as well as ethnocultural communities. Their input helped us mount a campaign that addresses the access challenge head on and suggests ways of fostering positive change.
Partners and Stakeholders
In the context of the campaign and other health initiatives, we are proud to have the support of partner organizations that include Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta.
Health Care Professionals / French-Speaking Population / Health Care System
We are reaching out to a broad spectrum of audiences: health care professionals willing and able to engage Francophone patients in their language, any and all French-speaking individuals living in Alberta, health care managers and providers across our health care system working to improve and strengthen patient-centered care everywhere in the province.
Who is funding the campaign?
Réseau santé albertain is proud to have the funding support of Health Canada through Société Santé en français.
Can I join?
Absolutely. Every effort matters. It all adds up. So do join us in letting our health care system know that language is a key component of patient-centered care. And providing French-language services is essential to the health and well-being of Alberta’s French-speaking population.
Below are some tips and ideas on what you can do. If you want to do more, go to I want to join in the action.
- Tell us what you think at Quiz Me. It’s easy and fast, plus you are helping by sharing very useful information on health needs and issues.
- When you are first greeted at a health care facility or clinic, you may want to test waters, see if the greeter speaks French. If not, no harm done; just carry on in English.
- Encourage family and friends to speak in French whenever they can and even to inquire as to whether services are available in French. A simple inquiry by different people at different times, at different facilities and clinics, is a message in itself and, when widespread, harder to ignore.
- If you know of a French-speaking health care professional, let people know including Réseau santé albertain at firstname.lastname@example.org .
► Mental Health First Aid Course
How does this concern me?
Mental illness affects all Canadians at some time, in some way. It is estimated that 20% of people in a given community will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Few people have the knowledge and know-how to deal with mental health issues.
Someone you know—a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour—is grappling with a mental health problem and suffering in silence. Ask yourself: do I know what to do to help someone in crisis? If the answer is no, time to do something about it.
What do I need to know?
Mental illness — depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress among other disorders — is increasingly recognized as a growing and serious issue. Incomprehension and stigma around mental illness are among the greatest barriers to getting help.
One in three Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the better the outcome.
Taking a First Aid course is the first step toward helping others. It will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to provide assistance.
What will the course teach me?
A First Aid mental health course teaches people to render assistance to someone experiencing a mental health problem. You will:
- Understand what mental health is, mental illness and associated problems.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems or crisis.
- Learn about effective interventions and treatments.
As a first aid mental health responder, you will know what to do until appropriate treatment is found, or the crisis is resolved.
Where do I sign up?
The French-language version of the First Aid mental health course is provided by Réseau santé albertain in concert with the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA).
To register, call 780-466-1680, extension 216.
- I would like to let others know about this—suggestion?
► About Réseau santé albertain
What is Réseau santé albertain?
Working collaboratively with the health care system and professionals, we reach out to stakeholders across the province, raising awareness of language as a key component of quality health care. Our goal: to improve access to French-language health services.
Our focus is on determining health needs and priorities in every region of the province and to encourage policy and decision-makers to take this into consideration at the planning stage. We work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders including community, regional and provincial organizations in all areas of health and across all sectors including education, training, immigration, language and culture.
What does Réseau santé albertain do?
We have been extensively involved in key areas of French-language health and health care for over a decade.
We implement and host community activities such as diabetes screening and management workshops.
We support health promotion programming, especially in schools through the Francophone Sports Federation of Alberta, an organization tasked with setting up Health School action committees with our Francophone school boards.
Our efforts in this area focus on raising awareness and funding a first aid course as a first step to understanding, recognizing and responding to mental health needs and situations.
Development of French-language Heath Services
Activities are ongoing and include creating and managing work groups to tackle major issues, e.g. mental health, senior health; supporting the development of primary health care programming in Calgary; promoting the active offer of French-language services by health professionals and patient demand for such services by the French-speaking population; enabling health navigators to provide assistance to patients and other groups working on a health-related project.
Who is involved?
Board of Directors
Our organization is governed by a Board of Directors comprising 11 members, with representatives from each of the following sectors: the French-speaking community, health care professionals, senior management of health care facilities, teaching and training institutions, as well as government.