A delicate issue

  1. I have an issue that I am unsure of the best way to approach. I have a number of nurses on my staff who are not native English speakers. We have had a turnover in providers, and our new providers have the same native language as the nurses in question. They have begun communicating in their native language extensively in the work area, and it is becoming an issue with some of our patients and with some others who work in the area. I am trying to figure out the best way to address this problem tactfully.

    My staff works very cohesively, and they work together well. They are a solid team and they volunteer to cover vacant shifts, which we have had quite a few of lately. I want to approach this in a sensitive manner, but it must be addressed.
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    About Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 1,632; Likes: 2,556
    Corrections RN/DON; from US
    Specialty: 22 year(s) of experience in Corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC


  3. by   lhflanurseNP
    Is the issue that they are too loud? Why exactly are patients and other staff members having issues?
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    The issue is that they are not speaking English with each other, right?

    I think the direct approach is best. Address the concerns raised in a respectful manner, and set forth the standard that all communication in public areas of the unit is to be English-only.

    Beating around the bushes will NOT solve the problem.
  5. by   loriangel14
    Many places have this type of policy. It is considered rude for people to speak in front of others in another language in the workplace.Formal communication of the new policy should be a starting point.
  6. by   amoLucia
    Sometimes the Social Services Dept Head can conduct an inservice on Resident Rights/Sensitivity Issues. And if this issue has come up in Resident Council meetings' minutes it has to addressed.

    The advantage that SS does it is that ALL disciplines and depts. can be reached. The language problem is not confined to any one language as we have all heard Filipinos, Hispanics, French Hatians, etc speaking. But when it's done in the workplace, it is a problem for pts and staff.

    Have SS introduce (re-introduce?) it as a facility-wide policy and no one group is singled out. And then people can be reminded when a 'slip of the tongue' occurs.
  7. by   Orca
    It has been more than a year since I posted the original topic. During that time a hospital in California lost a lawsuit regarding their "English-only" policy. It was found to be discriminatory on the grounds of national origin.

    I work in a prison setting. The approach I have developed, in view of the California court ruling, has been to tell my staff that while they may speak their language in the workplace, they must be mindful of the setting and who is around them. Coworkers and inmates who do not speak their language may become offended or concerned when things are being said around them that they do not understand. We had one instance in which an inmate believed that two nurses were talking negatively about her when in fact they were discussing going to get a manicure after work. I used this as an example of how misunderstandings can occur. I have not had any pushback on it.
  8. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    I would address your concerns at a meeting with all of them.

    My opinion is that it is rude to speak a different language in front of others who do not speak that language in a business setting. Just share wit them whatever facts who have (patient or staff complaints) and go from there.