Focus Group Summary: Service Providers Working with Low-German Speaking Mennonites

  • More Low-German speaking interpreters who are trained in medical terminology are urgently needed to ensure that Low-German speaking Mennonites have access to interpretation services. Without an available trained interpreter, many Low-German speaking Mennonites receive instructions related to medication and follow-up treatment they do not fully understand. This results in improper use of prescription medications and exacerbated medical conditions.  
  • Access to reliable transportation should be provided for Low-German speaking Mennonites who do not have access to their own vehicles when medical treatment is needed. There is transportation available through the Community Resource Centre – Wellington Transportation. The issue is that some are unaware of how to access the transportation– either because of language barrier or what information is required. People using Wellington Transportation must be low income and must provide proof of income.
  • Additional educational campaigns are needed in the Low-German speaking Mennonite community to dispel misconceptions around certain medical interventions, such as immunizations or treatment for mental health and addiction concerns.  
  • A publicly funded, universal dental program would be beneficial: many Low German speaking Mennonites cannot afford dental care which results in severe dental problems.
  • There may be less urgency around addressing the needs of Low-German speaking Mennonites because they are a rural population that remains largely hidden from urban-based decision makers.  
  • Primary care providers should receive additional training specific to serving Low-German speaking Mennonites because there is still a significant amount of reluctance to working with these residents because of perceived work related demands and stigma.   
  • It would be useful to recruit more Low-German speaking Mennonites directly into the medical profession, including nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians.  
  • The Drayton Family Health Team serves as a great example of health care that is accessible and receptive to the needs of the Low-German speaking Mennonite community.  Residents report feeling welcomed and listened to, especially after they have been in the area for a period of time. The incorporation of outreach workers has helped to increase access to available services.  
  • There has been a concerted effort to provide services to the Low-German speaking Mennonite community in convenient locations, such as the dental program that is offered in schools and community settings.   
  • There should be a greater focus on understanding the contributions of the social determinants of health to overall health and wellbeing. For example, Low-German speaking Mennonites do not have enough access to healthy foods and access to education can be difficult.