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Finding home care for someone who doesn't speak English

Finding the right home care for a non-English speaker can be a challenge – here are our tips on overcoming it.
4 min read
In this article
Translating needs Finding a home care service with staff who speak the language of your loved one What to do if your online research uncovers nothing practical
Finding faith-appropriate home care Addressing discrimination in care services

Looking into home care options for a loved one can feel difficult and emotionally straining at any time. But if the person for whom you’re doing this doesn’t speak English well, or at all, it becomes even more complex.

Here, we run through some of the best ways to tackle this, to help you and the person you’re representing find the best home care service.

Translating needs

Whether your loved one needs to be assessed by a healthcare professional, or you’re talking to them about how they’d like their care provision to be shaped, it’s important that everyone involved understands each other.

If you speak the main language of your relative or friend as well as English, you may like to attend appointments and meetings with them, to help ensure clear communication.

However, the person in need of care may not feel comfortable communicating their needs through someone they know well. In this case, the NHS should be able to access and provide interpreting and translation services. It’s worth noting that you won’t need to directly pay for this.

If you’re at the stage of researching specific home care options, providers may offer all information in the language spoken by your loved one. If this isn’t clearly signposted on the website, this doesn’t automatically mean it doesn’t exist – contact the provider directly to find out what they can offer.

Finding a home care service with staff who speak the language of your loved one

When looking into home care options, the first thing you’ll want to do is draw up a shortlist of local options.

Use our care services directory to do this. Specify that you’re looking for home care and enter a postcode or place name, and you’ll then be able to scroll through local options and see official ratings (in England and Scotland) and contact details for each search result.

Home care near you
Use our directory to find local home care agencies anywhere across the UK.

Once you’ve done this and you’re happy with your shortlist, it’s worth ringing each one to find out more. You may want to ask whether it has staff who speak the language of your loved one as priority, before moving onto other important questions.

You’ll probably have fewer feasible options to choose from at this point, but that may mean you’re one step closer to finding the perfect fit. The next step is organising a face-to-face visit, including the person who needs care, even if they don’t speak English.

What to do if your online research uncovers nothing practical

If you haven’t yet been successful in finding the perfect home care service for your loved one, don’t give up. There are avenues you can still explore, which is important to do if professional care is needed.

  • Ask friends or relatives in similar circumstances because they could have some useful pointers.
  • Get in touch with your local Age UK or other charity that works on behalf of older people as they may have previously advised on similar challenges.
  • Ask local care providers how their staff would work with someone when there’s a language barrier and potential cultural differences. You could also ask whether staff members have received any relevant training.

Finding faith-appropriate home care

If the person for whom you’re researching care options wants their faith to be acknowledged in the care they receive, there are a few things you can do.

There may, for example, be a specialist organisation that caters specifically for those looking into care options with their faith in mind. These are quite few and far between but, even if there’s not one that caters specifically to your needs, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find something appropriate.

Take a look at our article on finding home care that reflects your faith for our tips.

Addressing discrimination in care services

If you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against, know that you’re protected under the Equality Act 2010.

Discrimination doesn’t need to be direct to count as unlawful, either. For example, it could be a way of doing things that puts you at a disadvantage compared to others.

For information on what to do if you’re a victim of unlawful discrimination, see our full advice on tackling discrimination in health and care services.

Further reading

Home care options

If you’re finding it difficult to wash or get dressing, home care can provide the extra support that you need.

Last updated: 30 Apr 2019