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Bridging language barriers in multilingual care encounters
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Scandinavian Languages.
2014 (English)In: Multilingua - Journal of Cross-cultural and Interlanguage Communiciation, ISSN 0167-8507, E-ISSN 1613-3684, Vol. 33, no 1-2, 201-232 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present case study demonstrates how the multilingual practicesof a linguistically diverse workforce contribute to the functioning of a modernworkplace. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and recordings in a residentialhome for elderly people with dementia in Sweden, the article explores howmultilingual immigrant care workers creatively use their language skills toovercome linguistic boundaries and communicate with an elderly Kurdish resident.It is shown that despite the fact that the participants do not, or only to alimited extent, share a common language, the care workers manage to createmultilingual encounters that allow them to perform care tasks in an activitycontext where empathy and efficiency are of great importance. Although thedata in this study manifest the struggle of multilingual care workers to bridgelanguage barriers, the study also highlights the complexity of providingadequate and well-functioning care in today’s diverse society, where linguisticand cultural matching of clients and caregivers cannot always be obtained.These results are discussed in the light of new demands on Swedish (and morebroadly Western) care systems to adapt to the increasing number of multilingualolder people, who will become residents in care facilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 33, no 1-2, 201-232 p.
Keyword [en]
dementia care, immigrant care workers, language barriers, care encounters, multilingual practices
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100364DOI: 10.1515/multi-2014-0009ISI: 000330874300009OAI: diva2:692786
Omsorg som språkarbete. Hinder och möjligheter med svenska som andraspråk
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2009-1016
Available from: 2014-02-01 Created: 2014-02-01 Last updated: 2015-03-03Bibliographically approved

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Jansson, Gunilla
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