Interpreting Team | Celebrating BWC Spirit

Celebrating BWC Spirit

BWC Spirit Logo We are highlighting the amazing things our colleagues have done and achieved during the pandemic.

Our teams have bravely stood by the side of our patients, changed how they have worked to keep key and emergency services running and gone beyond the Trust to help colleagues in other parts of the NHS.

They have done so with an approach and spirit that is uniquely BWC and we want to celebrate that and what has been achieved.

From frontline clinical colleagues to our unseen and often unsung heroes in labs, offices and in our corridors - everyone has had a part to play and we’re sharing some of their stories over the next two weeks.

If you would like to thank individuals or teams either by sharing some kind words, pictures or a short video we would love to see them. You can submit your messages, pictures or videos by emailing

Interpreting Team

By Ela Ortega, Interpreting Co-ordinator, and Carla Johnson, Interpreting Manager, Interpreting Team 

Interpreting Team What was your experience of the pandemic? 

Ela: “It has been a roller coaster experience for the interpreting team. There were many ups and downs; we experienced many difficulties, both at work and in our personal lives. The team as a whole experienced many changes and had to quickly adapt in order to continue providing language support to patients/families.  

“Personally, at the start of the pandemic, I found the whole ordeal daunting and out of my comfort zone. My manager was on maternity leave and I only started my role six months before the pandemic hit.  However, it proved to be a great learning curve as it allowed me to build and develop my interpersonal and work skills.” 

What was the hardest part? 

Although the Interpreting Service had been working with Video Interpreting in 2019, the Trust was still very new to the idea and face-to-face Interpreting was the main method of language support.  

The hardest was moving a service that was reliant on face-to-face communication to working completely remotely. Supporting the Team to quickly up-skill and learn how to confidently use new systems like Zoom, AccuRx and three-way telephone calls. Supporting non-English speaking families to access new technology and teaching clinical staff how to use Video Interpreting and 3-way telephone calls.  

How did you cope? 

The team coped by making sure we didn’t lose communication with each other. At the start of the pandemic, all interpreters worked from home and only recently started coming back onsite. Monthly team meetings were arranged to check in with all bank interpreters and update them on the current situation. The substantive team kept in contact daily over the phone. We gave each other the reassurance that although we are unable to meet and be there for each other in person, we are all on the other end of the phone ready to help as and when needed. 

The Team created Interpreting guides for staff to teach them how to use digital Interpreting, the Intranet page was updated with the most up-to-date information and the Interpreting team began a campaign to raise awareness about the service through Posters and business cards to ensure families knew that they could still access Interpreting.  

What did you learn? 

As the team co-ordinator, I learned many things, such as, how to use Zoom, accuRx, three-3-way calls and teleconference. I had to learn these quickly and created guides to ensure that the interpreters and agencies know how to use the different digital platforms so that the service runs as smoothly as possible. More importantly, I learned that we as a team are resilient, and together we are stronger. We all have the same vision and that is the fact that we all want the best for our staff, patients and families.   

How do you think it changed the team? 

Most of the people in the team were struggling with the technology and digital platforms as it is a new skill set for them to learn and they didn’t have much time to adapt. Before the pandemic, the interpreters only ever interpreted in person, therefore, the switch to digital interpreting is a huge step away from their comfort zone.  Many expressed their worries and difficulties with the changes and uncertainties. However, they all persevered and they didn’t let this set back get in the way.  

This experience allowed us to communicate more, it created an opportunity for everyone to build a connection rather than disconnect due to the distance and changes. But more importantly, it allowed our service to advance and adjust to cater to new demands. The interpreting service has become more sophisticated and diverse in regard to the services we offer. 

Beyond your team, who has inspired you during the pandemic? 

Ela Interpreting Services Coordinator: Beyond our team, the person who inspired me during the pandemic is Mark Hillier, Patient Experience Manager. Mark covered for our manager who was on maternity leave. He was an amazing support during the difficult times; we knew we could go to him when we needed help and reassurance. Without him, the team wouldn’t be able to cope as well as we did. Mark was patient and understanding; he is truly admirable for all the things he did and continues to do for the wider team. 

Carla Johnson – Interpreting Manager.  

I was on maternity leave in 2020 and when I returned in 2021 I was absolutely astounded at the changes that had happened in the team. They had gone from being worried about using new technology to proficiently using Zoom, AcuRx and three-way telephone calls. 

Ela was a huge support to the team in my absence and I so admired the way she managed to pull the team together and ensure our non-English Speaking patients and families could still access Interpreters. It was genuinely lovely to see the way Ela had grown in confidence and expanded her skill set to take on new challenges. Ela is amazing, and the whole team appreciates her dedication and hard work.  

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