Housing for the Elderly Members of a Linguistic Minority

By: Anne Marise Lavoie   Monique Benoit   Sylvie Larocque  

In Canada, there are two official languages, English and French. However, with the exception of Quebec, the French language is in minority in the other nine provinces as well as in the three Canadian territories. In the province of Ontario, where 4.4% of its population is French speaking (by far the largest population outside Quebec), services in French are available where numbers warrant (according to Law 8). However, most elderly French speakers in the province are housed in nursing homes where English is the language of work and health services are generally given in English. A qualitative descriptive study allowed to demonstrate the perception of the relatives of the elderly francophones residing in nursing homes where English is the predominant language. Preliminary results show that relatives are not satisfied with the level of care given, as caregivers do not communicate with the elderly in their language. They pretend that the language barrier, notably the use of English medical terms, prevent the elderly from understanding their diagnosis, properly using their medication, and applying their treatment. They are saddened that their elderly relative cannot take part in the activities of the nursing home and their relative become more and more isolated. They abhor that fact that their relative, who is not fluent in English, must wait a long time in some cases for an answer leading to a situation that can threaten their health and well-being - receiving an answer often requires an interpreter who is not always available at an appropriate time.

Relative, Nursing home, Linguistic minority
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Virtual Poster

Anne Marise Lavoie

Professor, Nursing, Laurentian University, Canada

Monique Benoit

Professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Canada

Sylvie Larocque

Associate Professor, Laurentian University, Canada