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To think speaking English 'well' may not be necessary for carers?

(79 Posts)
SameDifference Sat 03-Aug-13 18:29:43

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:

BigBoobiedBertha Sat 03-Aug-13 20:02:35

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.

LuisSuarezTeeth Sat 03-Aug-13 20:06:51

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.


Dilidali Sat 03-Aug-13 20:15:07

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.

llittleyello Sat 03-Aug-13 20:32:52

as per wot everyone else has said

LazyMonkeyButler Sat 03-Aug-13 20:35:31

YABVU. I am a Carer, communication is the most vital part of the job.

bigbluebus Sat 03-Aug-13 20:36:32

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.

Trigglesx Sat 03-Aug-13 20:45:45

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.

Onesleeptillwembley Sat 03-Aug-13 20:58:08

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 03-Aug-13 20:58:54

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.

LongTailedTit Sat 03-Aug-13 21:10:54

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.

SofiaVagueara Sat 03-Aug-13 22:03:31

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.

SofiaVagueara Sat 03-Aug-13 22:04:35

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.

WetAugust Sat 03-Aug-13 22:05:07

YABVU and dangerously so.

Carer's cannot understand their client's needs without understanding fully the language their client uses and that includes colloquialisms.

olibeansmummy Sat 03-Aug-13 22:05:36

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.

olibeansmummy Sat 03-Aug-13 22:10:30

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.

MammaTJ Sat 03-Aug-13 22:11:35

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.

Nerfmother Sat 03-Aug-13 22:11:45

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?

ShadowMeltingInTheSun Sat 03-Aug-13 22:13:31


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).

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 03-Aug-13 22:17:37


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>

Pagwatch Sat 03-Aug-13 22:20:30

My son had an escort on his transport who couldn't speak English. It was a total fucking nightmare.

Nerfmother Sat 03-Aug-13 22:22:16

Thanks Ali - just surprised really.

Mumsyblouse Sat 03-Aug-13 22:32:58

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).

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 03-Aug-13 22:38:59

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 blush

paulapantsdown Sat 03-Aug-13 23:07:40

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?

Nerfmother Sat 03-Aug-13 23:13:21

Ali - wonder how it works practically. Not a terrible idea, just at odds with general way things are open to all.

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