CALD Assist app – a valuable tool for COVID-19 screening

Western Health's free CALD Assist app, which supports communication between health care workers and people from non-English speaking communities, is now available for COVID-19 screening.


The app, developed by Western Health staff in collaboration with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, was launched in 2017 and designed primarily for use by allied health workers and later nurses.

It features more than 200 commonly used phrases translated into 10 languages – Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese – supported by images, video and pre-recorded audio.

Then, as the pandemic hit this year, Western Health speech pathologists saw how CALD Assist could also be a valuable tool for COVID-19 screening.

The team, led by Sally Brinkmann and Courtney Pocock, spent hundreds of hours over several months developing and refining the COVID-19 module, with the support of the CSIRO. Western Health’s interpreting team, including Macedonian interpreter Lile Blazevska, put their voices to the app and also assisted with translation.

Western Health Executive Director Operations Natasha Toohey said the rapid re-development of the CALD Assist app during the pandemic was typical of the health service.

“Without any fanfare, they just got on with the job – isn’t that the ‘Western Health’ way!” Ms Toohey said.

“Well done to everybody involved, particularly our incredible speech pathology and interpreting teams.”

Ms Toohey said facilitating effective and person-centred communication is vital to providing quality health care “at all times, not only during a pandemic”.

“Western Health is very proud of the CALD Assist app and its success in helping facilitate communication with people from non-English speaking communities, and we’re thrilled it is now equipped to guide them through the COVID-19 screening process.”

The free CALD Assist app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.