To think speaking English 'well' may not be necessary for carers?(79 Posts)
My latest blog post covers the immigration debate from the point of view of this immigrant who grew up in Britain, and Chris Bryant's example of carers needing to be able to speak English well.
I don't think speaking English well is as necessary for carers as it is for other immigrants. Here's why:
Sorry this is the working link samedifference1.com/2013/08/03/the-disability-link-in-the-immigration-debate-racistvan-gohome-foreignborn/
You're not wrong that there may well be immigrants in care home who would prefer carers who spoke their own language. That's fine. It doesn't negate the fact that carers will need to possibly speak to their families who don't speak that language. All very well and good being able ro speak to the person needing the care, but how would the carer speak with the family members. The carers will need to liase with managers etc who may not speak that language either.
YABU. As Alis said, carers don't just have to speak to the people they're caring for. They may need to feed back to managers, social services, family members etc. And surely it is better for them to speak English (as well as any other language they know) as then they are not trapped into working in a specific care home. What if their boss is an arsehole - if they speak English they can look for another job, access employment law information, get support. Without English language skills their options are woefully limited.
It might not be necessary in the minority of cases, but for flexibility in employment it is beneficial. In the majority of cases I'd say it's more than beneficial and is actually essential, seeing as how many people that need carers can be isolated and get their main source of conversation from their carers. It seems common sense to me that carers need to be able to understand their clients, so if a carer can speak two languages and share another language with their clients and speak English too, then great. But I don't think we should say that carers don't need to speak English well. Everyone needs to speak the language of the country they work in if they are going to have long term employment.
It's necessary for carers to be able to speak English.
Given a straight choice English is needed to be able to liaise with outside agencies and follow written instructions as well as record accurately in writing for anybody who needs to access information to be able to get it and for it to be coherent. Also a carer is required to have a lot of training (manual handling including use of hoists, first aid, food hygiene etc.) that would be impossible to undertake without a certain level of English ability.
Carers with no experience of a clients preferred language isn't ideal, but key phrases and words can certainly be learnt.
Agree with the other two posters. I think that if you work in a caring profession it is essential that you can communicate with the people you are caring for. They may be old, ill and vulnerable and being able to talk to their carer and to feel reassured is vital.
I have worked in care for over 17 years and have worked with many colleagues that have English as a second language. Having a good understanding of English is essential in working within care. To work in care you either have to have or be working towards NVQ Level 2 in care you cannot do this if you don't understand English. How can you follow instructions, give medication, apply creams or actually communicate with the person that you are supporting? I specialize with supporting adults with learning disabilities where the ability to communicate is absolutely essential.
Are you just trying to get hits to your webpage? it seems that every thread you start gives a link to your blogging site.
If you want a debate on a subject why not just post a thread without a linky?
I'm in the Mumsnet Bloggers Network so they allow me to post links. If people choose to click, great. I also read and note any comments/opinions in threads here where I am likely to get views different to those of my regular readers.
YABU. Unless the carers are only going to care for people who speak their own language and work with others (doctors, social services etc) who speak their language, being able to speak English well is essential.
Somebody who is dealing with a debilitating illness or disability may not have the energy or ability to tune into an accent the way that somebody who is fit and well could. My father has Alzeheimer's - no way would he be able to cope if his carers couldn't speak English well or had a very strong accent. He would just not understand. If it were me, as a fit and able person who realises that communication maybe an issue, it would be easy because I could ask questions, check we both understood each other and I could get used to a strong accent, but you can't assume that those who need care can do the same.
YABU. Being bilingual would be a benefit if you were caring for someone whose native language wasn't English, true. But medicine is dispensed in English, doctors speak English (and 999 operators), and notes/ staff communications are written in English. The ability to understand and communicate clearly in English is essential.
I would love to see a Carer who couldn't speak English well find their way around my daily complex medication system !
You are allowed which is fine but it does get annoying when people post their link constantly.
You might be allowed to post links to your blogs but posting in AIBU often suggests that you would like to open a discussion or debate regarding the issues you are blogging about, which you do not appear to do. You make a thread, post a link and then there is nothing from you.
YABU. I can see many elderly people not wanting a carer who doesn't speak English. Communication is a vital skill when looking after anyone who is ill, disabled or vulnerable. You need to be able to reassure people, comfort them and make them feel that they are in good hands. Being cared for someone who does not speak their language would be distressing and frightening for many elderly British people. My MIL is 86 and has never been abroad in her life, for instance. Being cared for by someone who couldn't speak English would panic her that she wasn't getting the right medication - or that she couldn't discuss her worries with them.
What, are you nuts? Good verbal communication is essential in any aspect of caring for another person.
I care for the confused elderly and communication with them is tricky enough with a good command of English.
I write from the point of view of someone who personally needs/would need carers- that's why I only thought from the point of view of the people needing care and their families.
Those who raised the point about needing to communicate with health professionals are right, of course. This was not a point I remembered when writing the post.
YABU. I agree with sowornout some older people have difficulty understanding through hearing loss or confusion no good adding to their distress
They will still need to understand the regulations they're operating in a nd be able to liaise with other revevant dudes.
YABU to not post your whole argument to get people to look at your blog. I would never to that to get people to look at my blog.
YABU and incredibly silly to even make the suggestion.
My brother is severely disabled, both physically and intellectually. He struggles to understand and be understood. I know from bitter experience that adding a carer with a poor grasp of English into that mix is a recipe for misery all round.
Hi. Didn't go on to your blog but I know many carers who speak English as an additional language. My question is what level of English do they need to have to be considered as speaking English well? Do they need to be fully literate? Do they need to speak English without an accent so it's easier for clients yo understand them? What is speaking English well exactly? The ladies I know have differing levels of proficiency in English but all are able to communicate with their clients and managers. However they would struggle to pass an English GCSE which is what someone born here would need to do to prove they are proficient in English. I hope I'm making sense. I would hate to think good carers would be forced out of their job for not being able to pass an arbitrary test despite their proven track record.
My grandfather requires carers. They can all speak English well.
There isn't much one can do about an accent after a certain point. People with English as a first language can find themselves in a position in the position where people don't always understand outside of the area the accent is from.
It's a no brainer
Of course they need to speak English well
Medication-wise in particular, it could be a matter of life or death.
I think, peacefuloptimist, that the test of whether their English was good enough was whether they could pass the relevant qualifications for their job - NVQs or whatever. Passing GCSE English doesn't necessarily give them a good grasp of the language required to do their job but if they can't pass their professional qualifications that is another matter.
I agree that accent is tricky because a person requiring carers and the carer could come from a different parts of the country and strong accents could be an issue. However, I think if English is their first language, then they could probably modify their speech to make it clearer. That isn't so easy to do if you are speaking a language which you aren't so proficient in.
Utter rubbish. It is particularly essential for a carer to have a good command of English since they are required to make notes, complete medication charts and do their training in English. They must be able to relay information about the client to family/superiors/other HCPs.
In cases where the client does not speak English and would benefit from a carer who speaks their language it is VITAL that their needs can be reported accurately.
I wonder if the OP has ever worked as a HCP, carer or otherwise.
In healthcare it is VITAL to know English very well. You became responsible for another human being's welfare. It is very reassuring to speak the same language as your patient/resident, however, when you call the GP, ambulance etc you need good English, for your charge. There is NO room for errors.
I am struggling to see any sense in your post, OP.
as per wot everyone else has said
YABVU. I am a Carer, communication is the most vital part of the job.
My DD is physically disabled as well as having a profound learning disability. Her written Care Plan is key to being able to look after her properly. So not only would her carers need an excellent grasp of spoken English to hand over to/from me but they would also need to have an excellent understanding of written English and be able to write it accurately too.
I suspect the OP is overlooking the fact that carers do not JUST communicate with the patient. They also have to be able to read the care plan, administer medications accordingly, communicate with other HCPs on a regular basis, which will require a very good understanding of English both verbal and written.
It's just another example of how little regard there is for carers and the job they do, IMO. Not even taking the time to understand the job before coming up with this ridiculous idea.
A carer who speaks the same language to a high standard is absolutely essential, and in this country it's English.
I have had to put up with carers who spoke virtually no English, made no effort to understand me and I certain couldn't understand them. Bloody nightmare. Used up the tiny bit of health / energy/ pain free movement I had trying to make my needs understood, and failing.
When someone is very ill they have such limited resources that it (for me) was literally a choice between a. Using up everything I had to communicate and then get maybe 0.5/10 needs met, and be in agony, or b. give up and not eat/ drink/ wash/ have medication that day but not make self iller. I did B most days and at one point, hadnt washed my hair for 4 sodding months. it was awful and I can see how people could easily die with 'care' like that in the name of equal opportunities etc.
So actually, i think you are being grossly simplistic and choosing to pursue your agenda above the basic needs and health and safety of the most vulnerable people in society. Disgusting.
My MIL had a catalogue of issues caused by carers who weren't able to fully understand and comprehend her care needs, due mainly to the lack of ability with English, as well as cultural differences.
I suspect that if they had a more full understanding of and immersion into the English language (and almost by default English society and customs) that very few of these incidents would have occurred.
As it was, they were often excused away by the managers claiming the carers 'didn't understand'. IMO, if they weren't capable of understanding their instructions they weren't adequately trained and shouldn't be allowed to work directly with patients/clients.
YABU. In my area the social care provided by the council will take into account the native language of the person being cared for. For example if someone is Somali or speaks Sylhet they will match them to someone who speaks the relevant language.
I think this is a brilliant idea, and I think it's ridiculous to think that the same shouldn't extend to English speaking people.
In many cases this may be the only contact that a person has from one day to the next, particularly with the elderly. And it makes a big difference if someone can have even a brief conversation with you about the weather or what you're having for dinner.
And they need to be able to understand things like 'That hurts', 'Don't do that', 'My nether regions are sore', 'I need something to drink'. Otherwise they can't do the job properly.
YABVU and dangerously so.
Carer's cannot understand their client's needs without understanding fully the language their client uses and that includes colloquialisms.
I completely disagree with your view point tbh having worked in care as a student. Carers can't, or shouldn't, pick and choose who they care for, they can't decide to only work with people from their ethnicity and being able to speak English allows carers to be understood by a wider range of clients ( including those from who speak a different first language to their carer). I'd say the ability to communicate is MORE important in care work rather than less.
Elderly patients may be hard if hearing and those with learning difficulties or dementia may struggle to understand unclear English and therefore but understand what is happening to them, which is really unfair.
Your point about there being some south Asian only care homes doesn't work either as visas can't be granted on the basis of someone only working in a particular setting and there is no guarantee that there will be jobs available to those that can't speak English.
Oh and I forgot to add, your view is very demeaning to carers and clients alike. Why would a carer need less communication skills than a banker for instance, because their communication doesn't matter? I can assure you the work of a carer is far more important than many many other careers even if it is less well paid, because carers effect actual people's lives.
English is essential to be able to give out drugs safely, keep records accurately, and above all, communicate effectively with the majority of the service users (where I work anyway) and staff.
I work in a care home for the elderly with mental health problems. The service users all have rouble with communication anyway. If the staff did not have a good level of English, they would struggle even more. I say this, even as two of the staff are not English, but do speak it well.
Are you actually allowed care homes only for one ethnic group? I'm really surprised actually. I know you can have care homes for different needs ( dementia, Down's syndrome) but wouldn't it breach some kind of legislation?
Even if the carer is only caring for people who speak the same language as them, they'll still need to be able to communicate properly with other HCPs (it's very unlikely that all the HCPs they come into contact with will also be fluent in whatever language the non-English speaking carer uses), and be able to understand written instructions on medicines (which will almost certainly be provided in English).
I think there was a documentary about a care home for Indian/Pakistani (can't remember which) elderly people and how it was very unusual because usually people of those cultures are cared for by the family.
I can't remember what it was called or what channel it was on. <helpful>
My son had an escort on his transport who couldn't speak English. It was a total fucking nightmare.
Thanks Ali - just surprised really.
In an ideal world, all carers would speak perfect English and be easily understood by the people they are caring for, however there are lots of reasons why this is not the case, only one of which is that they genuinely don't speak very much English. Often caring jobs are extremely poorly paid or on funny limited hours contracts and so the main recruiting pool is young immigrants who often come here and get a first job caring/au pairing and then move on, so their english is often quite poor even if they pass some exams/basic qualifications in it. Even when someone lives in a country for many years, they may have a very strong accent which makes it hard for older people with hearing problems to understand them, my husband has this problem and he also can't understand very quick english either so the issue is problematic both ways.
Unfortunately young accented immigrant carers are one of the only groups that are prepared to do the very valuable work of caring for the money that is offered (I have family members who are 'unemployed' who refuse to do this type of work for example).
I was surprised when I saw it advertised to be honest Nerf, I wish I could remember what it was called now!
Also the think in that last post was meant to be italicised not bolded
If you are a care agency offering minimum wage, zero hours contract jobs, no travel time, shitty training and support jobs - then your applicants are going to people who can't get a any other job.
Our expectations are so low, because the job of a carer is so bloody disrespected.
You would do better than to even suggest the stupid ideas you have expressed, and use your blog to demand a raise in standards perhaps?
Ali - wonder how it works practically. Not a terrible idea, just at odds with general way things are open to all.
The rate that spending cuts are happening to social care will mean a decrease in good care as tendering rates for cheaper and cheaper care will win the bids. The lower the pay generally means the less qualified and less skilled.
Bella that's already happened, in my borough there is no low they can sink to unless they start just opening leaving people to die.
To the person who asked if I think carers don't matter- of course carers matter. It is because they deal with people's lives that they should be able to communicate clearly with clients and their families in any language, including English.
Just as ethnic minority clients have a need for native speakers and a right to request such carers from a council, so of course should English people have every right to request carers who speak English fluently as of course they have this need.
It's just that the fluent English speakers don't have to be immigrants.
Even if a person is only caring for a person/s who speak a language other than english, there are many aspects to the role that require a good grasp of english. Dispensing medication, communicating with other HCP, monitoring care plans, operating equipment, liaising with the community on behalf of the person (taking them to the doctors, shopping, etc), paying bills or liasing with community, legal and government agencies. A carer without english language skills could lead to the person being cared for to be even more isolated from the community than they were to begin with.
YABU. It is absolutely essential that they speak good English, for all the reasons already listed.
I shouldn't have the right to request a carer who speaks excellent English.
It should be the default position that carers speak English fluently.
Perhaps you mean that people should have the right to request a carer who speaks another language fluently, if the person requiring care speaks another language.
That might make sense.
Your op does not.
All patients need a carer that speaks (and reads and writes) with a good grasp of English. Patients that do not speak English have a right to request a carer that speaks their language AS WELL, or the right to ask for a translator to allow them to communicate with their carer properly. But to say that it is acceptable, in any way, that a carer speaks only a foreign language and not much English, is completely and utterly wrong, as well as showing a huge lack of understanding of the role of a carer.
If you cannot take the time to understand the huge problems this would cause, then perhaps it's best you educate yourself on the subject before you blog about it.
*Just as ethnic minority clients have a need for native speakers and a right to request such carers from a council, so of course should English people have every right to request carers who speak English fluently as of course they have this need.
It's just that the fluent English speakers don't have to be immigrants.*
And what is this "native" speakers and "English speakers don't have to be immigrants" nonsense? You know, some people who have English as a first language actually take the initiative to LEARN other languages. Just as some immigrants may speak English fluently, if they've made the effort to learn.
God, talk about living life with blinders on. You don't have a clue about the job of a carer, and you seem to think that only non-immigrants speak fluent English and only immigrants speak a foreign language. Ah, living the life of everyone put in their own little box.
mumsy not everyone is asked to working in care and those that aren't should never be forced into it.
It's one thing resenting your job and being pissed off when you're stacking tins of beans on a shelf. It's quite another when it's an actual human being you're dealing with.
Absolutely agree with Paula
Medication doses and times
washing preferences - bath/shower/favorite soap + religious preferences when washing
GP contact details
general notes on care received
All of these are in English, or did you think carers just wiped bums and changed clothes?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I think that is your view totally blown out of the water OP.
To suggest that carers' English standards need not be very high is ignorant and downright dangerous. Your vision is very narrow here and you seem to be confusing your own issues of ethnicity to suit a general need.
Should we be able to match carers to clients by language? Yes if possible. But the carer MUST have good English as well.
I'm a Mumsnet blogger too, and I think the new guidance was that we could link to blog posts if they were relevant to a discussion already being had. I'm not sure whether starting an AIBU with a link is in that spirit.
Re carers, I worked in a care home when I was 16 and can safely say I could have done that job with no English...but I was one of a team and a v junior one at that. It's a world of difference to being solely responsible for someone. I made cups of tea and ironed sheets like a badass tho...
Re carers, I worked in a care home when I was 16 and can safely say I could have done that job with no English
Oh please. Ridiculous. You are saying that you could work in a care home without speaking or understanding English? Maybe if you wanted to do a piss-poor job.....
Err, can you read the whole sentence before quoting me please?! Literally all I did was make cups of tea and iron. Yes, that could have been communicated to someone with no English....I barely saw a resident except to take a cup of tea to them. But I also said that that job is completely different to being someone's primary carer...was just wondering if the op had the two mixed up
I did read the whole sentence, but you're thinking with the idea that you're working the job and not using English. But look at it practically - how would you know exactly what your job entails when you started, or who your supervisor was, and what procedures to follow in an emergency, or what to do if someone was trying to tell you they were very ill and needed immediate assistance of medical personnel? Think about it from the moment you walked in to the job on your first day and you couldn't understand English or speak it - be honest, you'd be completely flying in the dark and no help whatsoever in an emergency.
It is very very important that carers speak english, my late FIL was deaf
and suffered from confusion due to a catheter, I had to intervene a few times when he was in the care home as he couldnt understand what his carer was saying and got upset.
I understand that, but what I was trying to say was that I was never in a position where I was alone with a resident - it was more like a kitchen hand job, but my title was still "carer". Hence wondering if the op had the two confused.
And working a) in retail on Oxford St and b) as a volunteer English teacher, I've come accross plenty of people whose grasp of English is shaky at best. They still managed to turn up for work/class on time.
Am not trying to start a fresh argument, just wondering if the op had the low-skill, low-contact "carer" job in mind. And was slightly annoyed that you quoted me just before the "but" which, as all good pedants know, changes the meaning of a whole sentence.
Good communication with vunerable people, whether it's children, disabled people or the older population is absolutely essential.
Everything else aside (meds, note writing, liaising with the MDT etc) being able to chat with and reassure someone who may be in pain, may be depressed and lonely, and could be having some very intimate/embarrassing care needs being taken care of is paramount.
I find your attitude patronising and ignorant.
Yabu. Of course it's vital. They could be the most lovely person in the world and take amazing care of their patients but just imagine the horrendous position they would be in if they were unable to understand fully regarding medication or what someone couldn't eat and something happened. They would feel like crap the rest of their lives and someone could die as a result of a stupid avoidable mistake.
Of course being bilingual would be of huge benefit. Being able to translate to families or the patient and be of huge comfort if they spoke the same language. But instructions and medication is in English and they need to be able to understand.
I find the assertions of your blog on this subject quite offensive and demeaning to both those who need and those who provide care.
Really, what an irresponsible misuse of free speech.
OP, you are completely and utterly wrong.
How could you possibly come to a conclusion that people who care for vulnerable individuals should not be required to be able to clearly communicate with people under their care????
One can't begin to imagine why would anyone think that a person who needs a carer wouldn't expect their carer to fully understand their wishes/requirements/medical needs?
Utter lunacy or lefties gone completely mad.
Same thing really.
How many care homes are there where the main language spoken is something other than English? Hardly any.
How many carers are there whose first language may not be English? A significant amount I should think.
Can you see the massive mismatch in numbers here? You might find a handful of carers, literally, who don't need to speak English well, who can deal with the patients and who have supervisors who deal with the world outside of their care home but out of the total number of carer jobs there are that has to be a tiny, tiny minority.
Those who don't have English as a first language can of course do the job but only if they learn a good level of English too. It is very useful to employ people who have another language but you can't do without the language of the country you are working in. Doesn't matter if it is this country or somewhere else in the world. I wouldn't go and work in France for example, and expect to get a carers job because although I can get by in French, I couldn't be trusted to know enough to work with vulnerable people who need me to get things absolutely right or have their lives put at risk. It would be too dangerous, even if I worked in a home for British expats. The home would be working within the French system, no matter what went on inside its doors.
Katese11 - I don't really call ironing or making tea a care job - I think you care confusing the argument by including that example. I think we are all talking about actual care work with patients, even the OP whose argument doesn't stand up at all.
Of course it's necessary they speak a good standard of English to do their job properly. Communication is essential, as is being able to read and understand instructions for medication etc.
people need to speak good English for their own benefit even if they can carry out their 'duties' as dumb mutes. being servants/carers to other people is only part of their existence.
at 16 you would have not been allowed to do any personal care - so I am not suprised you feel caring is just ironing and making tea - actual real care work is more complex and requires good communication skills
for all the reasons already listed
looking at it from a different angle, here is what the law says about caring for young children
from the EYFS
*Providers must ensure that staff have sufficient understanding and use
of English to ensure the well-being of children in their care. For example
settings must be in a position to keep records in English, to liaise with otheragencies in English, to summon emergency help, and to understand
instructions such as those for the safety of medicines or food hygiene*
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