Speaking with Dignity

Respecting and supporting the individual and attempting to give that person choice and control, centres around communication. If someone, of any age, is slightly infirm or disabled, but can still move, he or she is often still in charge of decision making in life. That person, for example, can still choose to go into the garden or to change activity. Once someone is unable to move independently then the choice is limited and the conversation with a carer or nurse is so important. It becomes vital that the healthcare professional can speak and listen well in order to maintain that person’s quality of life. That verbal contact with the client may be vital to solve immediate problems or prevent issues escalating.


There are many employees in the health services whose first language is not English. They are often compassionate and professional but lack the specific language to comfort, support and encourage. We need to recognise that this work related language needs to be taught like any other necessary skill. These members of staff often have relatively good general English and so offering them training, in the extra English required, gives immediate results. Consequently, their clients or patients will have a higher standard of care and the now trained staff will have been made aware of the type of language they need to use. So good care and job satisfaction!


Surely, for the sake of their “customers”, helping them to “settle in”  should mean providing them with the tools to do the job properly. In this case the training necessary is in work related vocabulary. This is not general English and you can’t expect them to suddenly acquire this language from nowhere. We must stop pretending this problem is not there and deal with it sensibly.


Jane gave two workshops at Wiltshire Dementia and Diversity Conference. She spoke about the affects on clients of poor speaking and listening skills from carers and ways of improving communication. To see a synopsis of the workshop please click here

In hospitals, care homes and care agencies we need to give the employees and the service users the rights they deserve. The carers, whose first language is not English, and, who are often poorly paid, need to be awarded the right to communication training, and, their clients need be given the possibility of a good standard of care, thereby supporting appropriately any medical condition they may be suffering. Good medical treatment can only succeed alongside good communication.
Nick Johnson, of the Social Care Association, said: “I continue to believe that only with strategic recognition of individual and personal commitment to best practice will we really diminish the risks of cases of terrible ill treatment. And, finally, if we treat social care workers as doormats, I leave you to work out where service users and their families will be……”
Nowadays, many establishments providing medical and healthcare have a multinational staff and, although the actually work related language is all important, organisations have started to realise that multi-linguistic means multi-cultural. So it is vital that staff also give the right message and they have established norms of how to treat the individual service user and other individual staff members. The whole team has to communicate well. The team is everyone providing the care, the person being cared for along with his or her family and friends. There must be easy ways of passing on information in order to promote excellent care.

In 2014 Jane has been working with Friends of the Elderly to provide  Positive Team Communication training. This has addressed the two areas. It targeted, equally, the need for appropriate work related English and, also, good group and one to one exchange of information, whilst promoting respect and appreciation of the individual in the “whole” team. To see a synopsis of the training please click here



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Why contact About English?

Do you want to succeed and improve your communication?
Is your English holding you back?
Do you want to learn more work related language?

What we can do for you

All language training is specific to your communication needs so you make progress quickly and it is very cost effective.
The first meeting is to discuss and assess what you need to learn and there is no charge until the language training begins.
Any tuition takes place around your working time, so you choose the best time.
We can normally come to you.

We can really improve your communication

Jane has over 30 years' experience teaching English to adults whose first language is not English. She has taught in the workplace and in colleges, to groups and individuals. Over the years, she has tutored people from over 60 different countries. She is used to assessing language problems and finding solutions.

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After the conference workshop: “ Now I understand the problem better and can start to deal with it”- a home manager

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Learning language of negotiation: “ Thank you. I got my bond back” –a university student