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Actively Offering Services in French

Reporting live from HC Link’s biannual conference Linking for Healthy Communities!

I’m really passionate about French Language Services (FLS). The interesting thing about my passion for FLS is that I’m not a Francophone. Rather I’m an Anglophone that has been working for the past few years to improve my French. And that’s actually why I’m so passionate about supporting organizations to deliver services in French: I know firsthand how challenging and frustrating it is to know what you want to say, but to not have the words to express yourself. When it comes to health services, it’s not only frustrating but can actually affect patient outcomes. When it comes to health advice, treatment or medications it is critical that the patient understands fully. And for Ontario’s Francophones, that means being able to access services in French.

In this afternoon’s workshop, Lynn Brouilette from Consortium National de Formation en Santé introduced the concept of Active Offer and shared some of the work that CNFS is doing to support health organizations and professionals to actively offer FLS. Then Patrick Delorme shared a new English toolkit, developed by Health Nexus and the Toronto Central LHIN, which provides a simple methodology for organizations to develop Active Offer.

There is a fine line between offering FLS and the Active Offer of FLS. Active Offer goes beyond simply making services available in French and ensures that all clients know- before they even have to ask- that high quality and reliable services are available to them in French. In this workshop, we heard about two organizations working in Active Offer.

When it comes to FLS, we often wonder if we should take a chicken or egg approach to FLS services: should we offer them first, or should we wait for demand? Research shows us that Francophones often don’t ask for services in French. We need to make it clear that services are available – whether asked for or not.

Anglophones can also be involved in Active Offer! By offering just a couple of words in French (even “Bonjour” or “Bienvenue”) communicates that clients have a choice of English or French. If they choose French, the appropriate French speaking staff can then be brought into the conversation.

Now, on to Health Nexus’ French reception to celebrate Francophones and French Services! We look forward to seeing you there!

 

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