1. Natashalou

    Natashalou Registered User

    Mar 22, 2007
    This is a bit sensitive and I dont want to be branded a racist..Im not, but not one carer from the Manager down in the home my mother is in really speaks English. That is to say they do a little but its so heavily accented I cant understand it and Mum has no chance.
    Even the doctor was difficult to understand.
    They come across as very caring people, smiling , laughing and using hand gestures but can this REALLY be as good as proper oral communication?
    Having asked around, I have been told all homes are going to be the same in the London area, care assistant jobs are hard to fill and poorly paid and there are not enough applicants to fill the jobs . ..presumably the implication is the staff are therefore here on short term work permits?
    This, along with everything else at the moment is really worrying me.
  2. Grandaughter 1

    Grandaughter 1 Registered User

    Jan 17, 2006
    I had same problem at the hospital the other day. I asked if someone could come and speak to me about Grandads progress. A very lovely filipino male nurse came up proceeded to give me a very comprehensive history of Grandads care since he was admitted, however I could barely understand a word he said!!!

    I was too polite to ask for a translation as I had seen him lovingly caring for my Grandad earlier and could see he was very dedicated and good at this job.

    It is a concern sometimes but as long as they are doing their job properly then I wouldn't have cause for concern.

    Louise x
  3. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    Hello Natashalou, I suppose one question is, does your mum looked settled and reasonably happy? Many of the carers in my mum's home are indeed hard to understand, but my mum treats it as a joke and smiles back at them or turns to me and asks for help. She asked one carer where she came from and when told she came from Hungary, she turned to me and said 'Isn't it wonderful that these girls come all this way to help us!' My mum is a sweetie and always did have genuine sympathy for people from other cultures. She used to teach geography and I can remember her commiserating about the poor wages that women in Ceylon (as it once was) were paid when picking tea to support the British tea-drinking habit.

    It is not going to happen, that a team of received English speakers are going to appear and care for our loved ones and anyway, there is a joy to be discovered in seeing how caring and patient the carers here are, in the face of some really quite unappealing work. I try to help the carers a bit with their English and make them feel welcome because that way they will want to carry on and feel more valued personally at least, if not financially.

    However, if you think that there is a genuine risk to your mum, then you should mention it to your home's manager. I think some companies actually offer English lessons to their staff, so that might be one way of approaching it.

    You ask "can this REALLY be as good as proper oral communication?" Well probably not, I suppose, but a caring nature goes a very long way for me. My mum is pretty deaf and even the Oxford English speakers have difficulty getting through to her, but she does respond to a smiling warm-natured person because that is a universal language, I think.
  4. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    Natashalou: I have just read Deborah's post - which I am so impressed with - hope the comments she made are of some help and comfort to you.
    Best wishes Beckyjan
  5. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    When I was flat on my back on the floor in the soft room with Jan today, there was a knock on the wall. It was Mark, the regional manager for the company that runs the care homes of which Jan's is one.

    He called in to let us know that he is moving elsewhere in the company [sad, because he has been so helpful!]

    The present home is to be demolished in sections and rebuilt over the next year and he said he would be sorry not to see it happen. I told him it sounded as if it would be great, with en suite facilities for all residents.

    His reply was illuminating: he said "ah, if only the quality of the buildings made a good care home, but it doesn't - the quality of care is provided by the staff"

    And he is quite correct. At the home the staff is maybe 40% British 30% filipino and 30% African. They make a fantastic team. Yes, it can be difficult to understand them sometimes, but frankly, the residents aren't after a conversation with them. Even with the strongest accent, they are easier to understand than the other residents. I put loving care before absolute clarity of speech every time.

    I do recognise though that in a place where the communication skills of the staff are less, that concerns must be raised.
  6. Libby

    Libby Registered User

    May 20, 2006
    North East
    Hi Natashalou

    We don't have a problem with language in my Mums home - but I wish sometimes that the staff had more of the above in your quote!!

  7. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    It certainly made things more difficult with some of my mother's carers, at home and in hospital. Before she was ill she would have had no problems communicating with them, but she was losing her own communication skills. Even the psychiatrist at the first memory appointment didn't know enough English.

    My mother was also aware of the fact that we (our NHS and our SS) depend so heavily on the work of those whose home countries don't have such services.

    The second SW was deaf, I realise SS have to employ a certain percentage of disabled people at all levels, but to my mother (and to me on the phone) it seemed that "she wouldn't listen and she shouted at us".

    But it was always a matter of making the best of whatever help we could find.
  8. nicetotalk

    nicetotalk Registered User

    Sep 22, 2006

    I understand when you say you do not want to come across racist, one of the care homes my mum was in the majority of the staff could not comunicate with us as they did not speak very good english. I understand when people are saying as long as they are cared for thats what matters but when it comes to you wanting answeres for certain things and you are not being understood it is frustrating. Every time we went to pick my mum up most of her clothes were missing, the number of times we collected her with bad diareah(can not spell) and when visiting her she was wet through. It use to frustrate me that no one could answer me yes the care sideof things mater more but wouldnt it be nice for a little chit chat from carers to our loved ones.
  9. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #9 Margarita, Mar 24, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2007
    My mother is British born in Gibraltar speak Spanish, lived in England for 50 year so has contributed to the NI tax for all those years with my father.

    My mother is losing her English and going back to her mother tongue, so my mother is lucky if she gets anyone to chat to her while she in respite in Spanish.

    Older English people who have dementia can come across racist, don’t forget they where brought up before the government in the 50s brought black men , woman to work in the hospital in England so had to adjust to another people culture .

    My mother is from Gibraltar and her skin colour is white , so she to was what they call racist , as in Gibraltar when she was brought up they was no black people , only Moroccans . I got the brunt of it from the English speaking children, ( also they mother's ) when my parents came to England in 59 because then my accent was different from there .

    So what we are seeing now is the government doing this angina, bring in people that will do the jobs that the British don't want to do because the wages are low and the work is hard .

    So to me body langue is the most important with people with dementia , as long as the care manger write reports all in clear English is the main issue , you call always ask him to put it in writing if you don't undertand what he/she is saying .
  10. Natashalou

    Natashalou Registered User

    Mar 22, 2007
    thank you

    To everyone who has commented, and yes, of course a caring nature is of paramount importance. However I am concerned not being able to communicate with the people she sees on a day to day basis will cause problems as she is still at the stage of asking questions and tring to hold a conversation, not always very sensible I must admit..but all she gets in return is a smile and laugh and maybe a comment like
    "you be ok lady".
    Already she has simply begun to stop trying to talk which cant be good. However as people have said, it is very difficult to recruit to these poorly paid jobs and if most homes locally will be the same I will simply have to continue to visit her every single day so she can get a little mental stimulation. Yesterday was the only day so far I havent visited and I felt very guilty, although she has little sense of time left and may well not have even noticed!!
  11. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    It was very frustrating on the phone when speaking to people who just repeated "yes she's OK" but couldn't answer other questions, and I wanted to say "is there anyone there who speaks English?" but was afraid of causing offence.
  12. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Natashalou,

    One of the saddest things about AD is that as the illness progresses, then verbal communication [in whatever language] becomes pretty well irrelevant.

    Normal language, as we understand it, is replaced by the sufferer with a form of 'Altz-speak' which varies from person to person and you have to be really clued in to comprehend it.

    I was caring for my mother 24/7 in the later stages of AD before she went into a NH and her language ability had deteriorated almost to nil. One morning we were having breakfast and she grabbed my arm and motioned out of the window. She said 'Big stick, up and down thing'. There was a beautiful big oak tree just outside the dining room window and a squirrel was racing up and down the tree trunk. I remember this so clearly, becuse it was the last 'coherent' verbal communication that we had together.

    After her language ability totally deserted her, the NH staff and I used to communicate with Mum by physical means. Holding hands, cuddling and hair brushing were all very positive ways of making her feel secure and less confused. Many of the staff there were not English born either, but they were incredibly skilled at non-verbal communication. It's a universal language if you are a carer.

    I'm sure that the staff at your Mother's NH are similarly skilled.

    As long as you can verbally communicate with the Management Team in a way which satisfies you, then I hope that the staff will be able to also communicate with your mother on a physical and caring level too.

    Best wishes,

  13. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    That it it progresses , no matter how hard I try to get my mother to talk , make conversation , I feel she can talk if prompted , but if I try she give me a blank look , like they is something wrong with me for asking her , I do find she like hugs , or just listening to me and my daughter talking , cutting her nails, putting nail vanish on her , doing her hair and daughter just sitting next to her telling her about they day , been made a fuss of really
  14. Conrad

    Conrad Registered User

    Jan 15, 2007
    This is a fascinating subject - When we went looking for homes for my aunt (she's still in her own house thankfully) we did come across one where we could find only one native English speaker - the receptionist/administrator

    The place was in chaos - I'm not sure the staff were capable of communicating with each other, never mind an eighty year old with dementia!!!

    If communication is difficult it just makes the residents 'shut down' before they should - they progress into the silent world too quickly

    I found it terribly depressing

    I was also aware as Margarita said, that my aunt has fairly antiquated views on 'foreigners' or 'black people'

    She has never 'known' a black person in her life and is probably as much scared of them as ignorant

    Political correctness is going to be an impossible lesson for her to learn, at nearly eighty, with dementia!!

    I did find myself worrying at how the staff would react if she said 'the wrong thing'

    perhaps they wouldn't have understood her!!

    That's not the point though - is it?

    It's a shambles and a shame, we couldn't have put her in that home, she'd have been lost in no time
  15. joyportsmouth

    joyportsmouth Registered User

    Mar 26, 2007
    Hi Natashalou
    I know exactly what you mean,when mum was in hospital before she went in acare home 90% of the staff were from thailand and they spoke very limited english.I phoned 4 times one night to find out how she was but couldnt find out as i couldnt understand what they were saying.I ended up phoning the switchboard and explaining how it was and they were good and got a english speaking nurse to phone me back. As you say i wasnt being racist,i was happy with the way they cared for mum but i needed to know her progress.
    I also went to one care home when i was looking for mum but it was run by people from germany,and though they seemed like nice people i knew the language barrier would become an issue,maybe not for mum but it would for me.

  16. Harley

    Harley Registered User

    Apr 20, 2007

    I had a problem with this last year when dad was in hospital. The doctor asked if he'd had his medication and dad replied "yes, the little black nurse gave me the tablet"

    Dad had no idea that this was wrong and said it was the only way he could describe her. I was called into the hospital and had to grovel and give my assurance that he would never say it again (I did, but couldn't guarantee it.) They were considering sending him home and refusing to treat him in future because of his 'rascist' behaviour. I really wanted to cause a big fuss but was frightened that in future we wouldn't get any care for him. He is 82 with Alzheimers.
  17. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Oh for crying out loud: I can't believe it (well I can, but you know what I mean). How the hell can we be expected to make promises like this on behalf of our loved ones? Do you know, when my mother was in hospital last time, apparantly (I got this from a well-disposed patient) she started laying in to them about the "appalling behaviour of the working classes". You have to understand, my mother started life as about working class as you can get, and has never forgotten her roots, and is in fact quite proud that fact. Good grief, half the time they tell us we have no legal way to control what our loved ones can or cannot do, and then they turn around an expect us to be able to control their speech??

  18. Natashalou

    Natashalou Registered User

    Mar 22, 2007

    to hear that, and also very suprised as even in the PC society we now live in the term "black" is actually perfectly ok!! maybe it was "little" they objected to??!!
    Im amazed there wasnt more flexibility with such an elderly person.
    Taboo terms are more like "coloured" and other more obvious ones that none of us would use.
    "Girl" as opposed to "woman" is unacceptable, Gay and Lesbian seems fine where as "homosexual" is now taboo. All very confusing actually. I speak as a worker in a very lefty field. But Ive been on training courses where its always agreed by everyone that the very elderly cant be expected to understand the "rules"
  19. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I've been thinking about this, and I really do not think this is policy: it's more about a bunch of stupid people who have just barely understood the rules regarding what can and cannot be done. I'm thinking about doctors who hide behind "data protection" when it comes to notifying the DVLA, even though the DVLA and the BMA clearly say it's their duty to report if all else fails. Since when is black unacceptable anyway? I have black nephews, and they call themselves "black", although I suppose it's fair to say that people of one ethnic group can call themselves names that would never be acceptable from someone outside that ethnic group. I totally understand why you didn't take it further, but unfortuantely, if people don't take issue with this sort of high-handed behaviour, they're just going to continue spouting this kind of drivel.
  20. Harley

    Harley Registered User

    Apr 20, 2007
    The manager I had to go to see at the hospital said it was the fact that dad had used her colour to single her out that was offensive :confused:

    He had a fall and had broken his hip and I was so scared they were going to go ahead and discharge him that I would have agreed that I had seen a space ship on the ward if they had asked for that assurance.

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