SWEDEN. There is a great need of health care personnel and the plan have been that the New Swedes would safe us by taking the vacancies. But it have proved more complicated than many expected.

It’s the paper of the trade union Kommunal who have looked into how good assistent nurses speak. The result was disheartening as there doesn’t seem to be any lower limit at how little Swedish a person could speak and still get hired, not only as a temp but permanently. Some assistent nurses told the paper that immigrated persons sometimes can’t even answer the phone at the ward, write in the nursing journal or order food using the computer. It has made the work enviroment tougher as the Swedes have to do the new ones work as well. When two persons have 13 multisick elderly with dementia to take care of both of them have to be able to do everything.

Not understanding the language have already led to several situations around the country where patients have been harmed or made to feel unsafe because of misunderstandings between the staff, the immigrant not understanding routines or not being able to take in new information. One awful example is an assistant nurse who didn’t dare to call for the ambulance as she was afraid that she couldn’t communicate. Another one is the man that arrived at an elderly womans home, he had never been there before and he could only say “shower” in Swedish. Then he picked her up and carried her to the bathroom where he undressed her.

The Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) say that the lack of speaking and understanding Swedish is a risk area in geriatric care. One also have to keep in mind that the elderly often is hard of hearing and can use dialects with words that are unknown to immigrants. When I read the article I get the feeling that the Swedish staff are a bit afraid to bring up the topic because of the reactions it may cause and they definitely doesn’t want to use their names.

At the same time the Sweden Democrats suggestion in Vimmerby municipality to introduce a requirement to speak Swedish for those who get employed to take care of the elderly was turned down. The lack of staff was one reason, but also because “the patients that doesn’t speak Swedish are increasing”. So immigrants doesn’t have to learn Swedish as they can talk among themselves? And incompetent staff is better than none? I wouldn’t want my family members to live like that during their last years.