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This was an innovation project supported by the former Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

Western Health


Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)


The Victorian communities served by Western Health have some of the highest levels of socioeconomic and cultural diversity in Australia. As a result, interpreter services are in high demand at the health service – demand that sometimes exceeds the number of available qualified interpreters. 

Nursing staff may use interpreters during patient assessment and to support consent and discharge. However, interpreter services are not always possible or practical to use in other common nurse-patient interactions, such as for basic but essential daily care tasks. 

In 2014, Western Health and the CSIRO developed a mobile app known as CALD Assist to help with initial allied health assessments when interpreters were not present.

In this innovation project, Western Health developed and implemented a new module for its CALD Assist app to improve communication with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients during common day-to-day nurse and patient interactions. The health service aimed to better meet these patients’ needs and provide them with a more positive experience by engaging them in making decisions about their own care. 


  • Expand the CALD Assist application to facilitate timely and effective communication between CALD patients and nursing staff when an interpreter is not available
  • Evaluate the impact of CALD Assist on staff and patient experience
  • Release the completed iPad application for use in other health networks across Australia


  • Developed a new nursing module for the CALD Assist app with 143 phrases translated into 11 languages to assist daily nursing-patient interactions
  • Received feedback from staff saying the app increased the success of their CALD patient interactions, with 90 per cent saying the app was useful for communicating with this group
  • Received positive feedback from patients and families, with six of seven CALD patients who provided feedback saying it helped their nurse understand their needs
  • Released the CALD Assist app on the Apple App Store, making it freely available for other health services to download and use


November 2020 – The CALD Assist app can now be accessed on all phone and tablet devices and is available for free download on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Western Health has also expanded the content to include a module with coronavirus (COVID-19) screening questions.

Project summary

Video transcript

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