So you strengthen the language skills of language-weak employees at the nursing home

This article is AI-translated and written based on Swedish conditions. Hopefully it can inspire interested people from other countries.

Care staff meet elderly people in vulnerable situations on a daily basis. The operation needs to have routines to ensure that those who are employed in the operation have sufficient knowledge to understand and talk to the residents and relatives. As well as being able to document what happens and to be able to describe changes in health status for example to a nurse on duty.

It is crucial that all employees have good language skills, in order to maintain high quality in care and nursing in the elderly home. By working with strategies and measures to strengthen language skills, the elderly home can create a more inclusive and efficient work environment.

Foto: Mostphotos

There are risks associated with having employees who cannot master the language working alone


We sometimes come across trained nursing assistants who do not master Swedish in speech and writing. This can mean that they do not understand what the resident is expressing or that they cannot document what needs to be documented. How can it be that education providers are allowed to grade people who obviously cannot have passed the training. Who bears the responsibility if such a person makes a mistake.
It is important to know the language well enough
Knowledge of the Swedish language must always be a basic competence for work in elderly care. The staff should master the Swedish language in speech and writing. You must be able to make yourself understood if something happens so you need to call a nurse or after an ambulance. It is also important to understand what the resident says in order to provide the right help and to show respect for the resident's wishes.

How the nursing home can work to strengthen language skills among language-weak employees


When there is a shortage of staff, there is a risk that the business will bring in substitutes who do not know Swedish well enough. This means that the burden on the regulars increases. They find it difficult to describe what needs to be done and the residents cannot make themselves understood. At the same time, people with poor language skills can sometimes have a fantastic aptitude for care work.

There are municipalities that in procurement set requirements for language skills among employees. The contractor must state in the tender how they ensure the requirement. It becomes a tricky situation when the home has previously been in municipal operation and there are employees who followed the takeover and who do not have the right language skills.

For a person with dementia, it is terrible not to be able to make oneself understood and to understand people in the surroundings. A confused world risks becoming even more frightening and incomprehensible. Employees with poor language skills can unwittingly expose the residents to humiliation or downright dangerous situations.

Those who cannot express themselves also find it difficult to motivate, inform and instruct. This means a risk that the older person gets more help than they need and thus risks losing functions that are essential for daily life.

If the business has employees who do not understand the language well enough, they must receive ongoing guidance and walk alongside someone who masters the language in speech and writing. The business also has a responsibility to help employees who have deficiencies in the Swedish language to improve their language skills.

When important events are not documented, the residents risk being harmed. Also when the evening staff cannot make themselves understood towards the on-call nurse when a resident becomes ill.

We will need to hire many in elderly care in the future as well. It is important that those who are going to work in the care learn to understand, speak and write Swedish. The challenge is to help those who have the aptitude to become fantastic nursing assistants the language and give them a solid vocational education. They will be needed in care and care for a long time to come. Many businesses find creative ways to help people get better at the Swedish language.

Language skills in connection with delegation


Delegation is an opportunity to get an idea of the knowledge in the Swedish language. To ask control questions in connection with training to get an idea of how much the person has understood and can explain in dialogue. Working with mentoring, clear instructions (ex. SBAR) and closer follow-ups regarding delegated tasks can be good ways to follow up staff in the business.

From a management perspective, it is important to know that all employees have good language skills. Otherwise, as a manager, you cannot guarantee high quality of care and care in the nursing home. Language-weak employees may experience difficulties communicating effectively, which can affect their work effort and the residents' well-being. By working strategically and taking action to strengthen language skills, the nursing home can create a more supportive and efficient working environment.

Assessment of language level


Language assessments: Carry out regular language assessments to identify the employees' language level and their specific needs. This can be done with the help of language tests or through observations in the work situation.
Individual development plans: Design individual development plans based on the assessments, where specific goals and strategies to improve language skills are determined.

Language education and courses

Tailor-made language courses: Offer a language support that focuses on the specific needs and tasks that the employees have. These courses can be adapted to also address medical terminology and other important topics.

Cooperation with education providers: Cooperate with local schools and educational institutions to offer language education. This can include both formal courses and informal language training programs.

Language mentor programs

Language ombudsman or mentor: Some units have language ombudsmen who support colleagues in expressing themselves and understanding the Swedish language. It is important to be clear that the language ombudsman should be a support, but not take over tasks. It is also possible to make schedules that mean that people who are weak in the Swedish language work together with people who are more confident in expressing themselves in speech and writing. Note that there are many Swedes who are language weak when it comes to documenting.

Language training in everyday life


Daily language training: Encourage daily language training by creating situations where employees get to use the language practically. This can include role play, discussions and collaboration exercises.

Work-related materials: Provide employees with work-related materials in the language they need to improve. This can include manuals, instructions and care documentation.

Technical aids

Language and translation apps: Use language and translation apps that can help employees understand and communicate better. Apps like Duolingo, Google Translate and Babbel can be useful tools.

E-learning platforms: Offer access to e-learning platforms that offer language courses and exercises online. This gives employees the opportunity to learn at their own pace and time.

Cultural understanding and inclusion


Culture training: Offer training in understanding the culture to create a more supportive working environment. This helps employees understand and appreciate each other's backgrounds and experiences.

Diversity work: Pay attention to different cultural holidays and traditions. This can strengthen the sense of community and belonging among employees.

Follow-up and evaluation


Regular follow-up: Carry out regular follow-up of employees' language development to see that they are making progress and that the training efforts are effective. This work is not a quick fix that should take place in any temporary project. Here it is important to keep up, follow up and work long-term so that language development becomes part of the work with continuous improvements. If the measures are not effective, you have to try in a different way.

With active work, the nursing home can create a more inclusive working environment where all employees have the language skills required to perform their work in the best possible way. This not only improves the working environment for all employees but also the quality of care for the residents.

Reflection questions - language requirements:
Care Staff:
- Have you ended up in situations where you worked with colleagues who do not understand the language?
- What can you as colleagues do to help them get better at the Swedish language?

Manager, nurse, occupational therapist and physiotherapist:
- How do you check the language skills of those who start working with you?
- What do you do if someone has a grade as a nursing assistant but cannot document or make themselves understood?

Resident and relative:
- Are there employees at the nursing home who cannot make themselves understood?
- How does it affect the care?


Erland Olsson
Specialist nurse
Sofrosyne - better care every day

Aktuellt i media
  • 2024-07-15 04:00 08 Förebyggande o lokaler
    The operation needs to have good routines when testing aids.
    Foto: Mostphotos
    info
  • 2024-07-11 04:00 11 MTP
    Do you know your aids for the elderly? Worth knowing about assistive device management at the nursing home.
    Foto: Mostphotos
    info
  • 2024-07-08 04:00 01 Kvalitet
    The right level of ambition is key to success
    info
  • 2024-07-04 04:00 12 Personlig omvårdnad, 06 Dokumentation, 15 Handlingsberedskap, 04 Bemötande
    So you strengthen the language skills of language-weak employees at the nursing home
    Foto: Mostphotos
    info
  • 2024-06-27 04:33 14 Läkemedelshantering
    Safe drug handling, a basis for patient safety and thus the residents' well-being at the nursing home
    Foto: Mostphotos
    info
  • 2024-06-24 04:00 12 Personlig omvårdnad, 08 Förebyggande o lokaler
    When the heat wave comes, it is important to have knowledge and a strategy to protect the residents and the staff.
    info
comments powered by Disqus

Skriv upp dig till
Vårdpraktikans nyhetsbrev

Some fields are not valid
Nyhetsbrev