Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Britain is no country for old men who suffer poor health because they are 'non-proficient' in English

An article from the International Longevity Centre. entitled : 'Lost in translation : Addressing language barriers in health care', makes the point that old people in Britain are often seen as a homogeneous group and this is far from the truth and no group of old men and women are more hidden from hidden from policy and services, than those who experience language barriers.

The fact of the matter is that the 2011 census of England and Wales showed that 863,000 people 'do not speak English well or do not speak English at all' and many of these were old people. They are officially classified as 'non-proficient in English' and this can result in unequal access to quality health care. This, almost certainly, means they can't read this poster. As the article said : 'They may have reduced frequency of referrals and follow ups from health professionals and they may have to wait longer for services. Consequently, the access and use of primary care is in fact comprised.'

In other words, a significant number of old men and women are discriminated against because they are, for whatever reason, non-proficient in English and among these are a growing older population of widowed Asian women with language needs in Bradford and a growing number of Somali women with language needs in London. In fact, analysis of the 2011 Census shows that overall 60% of those living in England and Wales, but unable to speak the national tongue, are female.

In addition, the data shows that those aged 75 and over, who are non-proficient are twice as likely as those whose main language is English to report to have ‘not good’ health.

The situation could be improved, but at financial cost. There could be investment in language services with policy makers investing in English courses targeted to older people. There is also the need to improve translation services by using technology such as 'video/voice over'. In California, nine hospitals use a shared 'video interpretation service' which routes translation requests to a call centre staffed by trained bilingual staff. However, given the fact that this group of old men and more particularly, old women, in Britain are inarticulate and have few supporters, this is unlikely to happen, after all :

Britain, eight years ago in 2010 : NHS 'failing those who don't speak English'

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