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Language problems

by Emmienme Emmienme (New) New

Has anyone experienced problems with nurses speaking in a language other than English on the floor, around patients, etc. besides being rude and against company policy (or so I thought), I am wondering how this affects my Alzheimer's/dementia patients. Thoughts?


Specializes in LTC.

That's a very interesting connection re dementias with foreign languages being spoken in proximitry (sp?). I would just venture a guess that it could only add more to the disconnect related to cognition and verbal comprehension.

I have seen where even longtime US Anglo speaking immigrant residents eventually lose their understanding of their native languages, specifically Spanish and Italian. I have really seen this when family try talking to them in the native language, but to no effect. The patients have even lost that language recognition.

So, YES, I guess it could exacerbate confusion for a dementia pt to be hearing foreign Haitian or Filipino or even Spanish. As you post, it is against facility policy - I see it as a Resident Dignity issue. Sheesh, even for a mono-lingual person, like myself, it is ANNOYING. And I could see it also adversely affecting psych pts and contributing to increasing suspicion and paranoia.

If you're a newbie nurse, kudos to you for a very astute observation.

Perhaps alerting Social Service (they're the Pt Advocate 'official' in most places). The facility's rule against foreign language speaking in a pt's presence should be reinforced and monitored. If I remember way back, it was an issue identified during a State survey at a LTC facility I worked. Letting Social Service handle the issue on a facility-wide basis allows them to handle the resistance the will arise. I really don't sweat it if 2 CNAs chat Haitian in the locker-room. Or if 2 nurses chat Spanish in the med room. But you're right, it should not be occurring in any pt areas, and MOST ESPECIALLY, in geri or psych areas.

I don't know how much this has been reported in the professional literature, but there might be some EB studies out there.


Specializes in NICU, ER, OR. Has 18 years experience.

Yes, and there was a formal complaint made, and it's now not permitted, and subject to disciplinary action.... ENGLISH ONLY