Translated assessment tools can unlock greater resident understanding

Last updated on 10 May 2024

Important assessment tools need to be better translated to engage with CALD residents. [Shutterstock]

Psychosocial assessment tools in aged care need to be translated into multiple languages to effectively evaluate social engagement and quality of life, according to new research by Western Sydney University.

Translated and tailored assessment tools would also result in more accurate and meaningful data collection and streamlined administration processes, the report’s authors concluded.

The research comes from a recently published report, Co-production processes for translation and validation of psychosocial assessments for older adults in aged care

It investigated how psychosocial assessment tools that measure social ability and well-being would benefit specific residents in an aged care home when translated into Turkish, Korean and Mandarin.

The research revealed that cultural appropriateness significantly impacted the delivery of questions within the assessment tools. 

This included difficulties such as the lack of terms for unique places of worship, outdated language such as references to reading newspapers, and differing priorities in social and well-being matters between Western and Eastern cultures.

Lead researcher Dr Joyce Siette, from Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, said adequate translation methodologies are essential to facilitating effective assessment in aged care services.

“When we looked at the quality-of-life tool, there was a question concerning ‘love and pleasure’ that, in the initial translation to Chinese, was associated with sexual experiences and values. However, this should instead reflect enjoyment and happiness,” Dr Siette said.

“Similarly, in the social participation tool, the terms ‘immediate household’ and ‘extended family’ showed variations across cultural contexts, particularly in cases where multi-generational families challenged the traditional definition of a household. Participants’ understanding of ‘extended family’ occasionally blurred with that of immediate family, leading to complexities in interpretation.”

“Given the diverse ethnic backgrounds of aged care clients, we formally translated versions of the assessment tools in Korean, Turkish and Mandarin, the primary languages spoken by clients of an Australian community aged care provider.”

The research method included forward and backward translations of two popular surveys, the Australian Community Participation Questionnaire (ACPQ) and ICEpop CAPability measure for Older people (ICECAP-O).

Staff said the formally translated tool versions eased the admin burden for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) clients, allowing them to independently interpret questions, resulting in improved questionnaire completion rates. Deeper relationships with residents were also highlighted. 

“The research highlights the importance of accurate data collection regarding social participation and quality of life so that providers know whether services are effective in maintaining and boosting clients’ wellbeing or if they’re experiencing a decline and there is a need for intervention,” Dr Siette added.

Based on the research, Dr Siette and her fellow authors urged aged care service providers to prioritise the translation and cultural adaptation of psychosocial assessment tools into languages spoken by their diverse client base. They said this would result in more accurate and meaningful data collection. 

Due to the sophisticated relationship between language, culture and context, the authors also said to ensure time and resources are appropriately committed to any document translation.

Translated versions of ICECAP-O can be accessed through the University of Bristol (registration is required). We will provide a link to the Australian Community Participation Questionnaire once available. 

cultural diversity
health and wellbeing
culturally and linguistically diverse
resident engagement
aged care assessment