Question Of The Week: I’m Having A Hard Time With Diversity!

by Patti on April 23, 2012

in Question Of The Week


Question:
I work at an assisted living community- in the dementia unit. Many of my co workers are from other countries; many do not speak English well, or simply refuse to speak English. I have been a mentor for CNAs for over 15 years now and I’m having a hard time mentoring these people. They can’t read English. They can’t write in English. Trying to teach them I & O charting, for example, is very difficult. Trying to explain care plans is another extremely difficult task for them. They are all CNA’s- brand new aides with no experience. This is their first job as aides. I think this is a serious problem: How do these people pass the CNA exams?? I don’t think it’s safe to employ them but my DON said I am being biased and not open to diversity.

Answer:
You have very legitimate concerns. Your DON is a moron to be totally blunt. He or she is placing the residents at great risk by taking such an attitude. Diversity is great; we need it in today’s world. The purpose of diversity in the workplace to have a strong representation of the community our employer is part of. Diversity brightens prospects for this community and it helps keep the local economy strong. Diversity also has drawbacks. In order to work well, the people seeking jobs must match the skillsets required by employers. Sometimes, employers lower standards and hire in people from other countries in hopes that these people will learn skills and rise up to standards.

In nursing this creates professional problems. While we want to open up opportunities for foreigners who want to learn, we have to be careful with patient safety issues. When a nursing employee of any rank cannot read such basic materials like care plans, or Care Cards, or assignment sheets, they should NOT be permitted to work. Even if this employee has passed the state CNA exam and is **certified** I believe employers must go a step further in ensuring that ALL employees can function in their hired roles. So, a test should be part of the employment application process. Potential hires should be required to read a sample care plan and explain to the hiring people, what they just read and how they interpret it. The key to such employment practices is that they be evenly applied- to ALL potential hires and not just those from other countries or who speak with accents. DOing so is fair.

My advice for you is to go back to your DON and speak again to your concerns. Ask the Administrator to join this meeting. Then, keep a log book with you at all times and note when you trained who on what…and whether you believe they understand the training. Alternatively you can ask to step down as a mentor- this is a tough choice but you might go home and sleep better knowing you had no part in this unethical practice. If you know a resident has been harmed by a employee who cannot understand English and therefore provided substandard care, you have an obligation to report it.
I’m sorry that your employee chooses to place you in such a bad position.

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