Have you heard of the International Institute of Minnesota? I don’t know that I had until this week. Each April is the St. Paul Senior Workers Conference. This year the Executive Director, Jane Graupman presented and explained what the institute has done to help refugees and immigrants to adjust to productive lives in America. Under her leadership the institute has prepared more than 2600 immigrants for careers in healthcare. Graduates in the Nursing Assistant program have a 94 percent job retention rate at one year which is excellent for the industry. The Institute works with 75 employer partners and supports college-bound English language learners earn advanced degrees in healthcare.
Often when I’m touring and working with families, they may be concerned about the diversity of workers in facilities. I have always believed and tell them, many of our diverse workers have a heart for older adults. In fact, respect and care for elders is often an important part of their culture. My clients often agree that that is true. What’s important, I tell them is that you are able to communicate with them. Often, it takes some adjusting to a person’s accent to be able to understand them. Those that are working at improving their English want to speak as clearly as possible and would appreciate any feedback you can give them.
When I was an exchange student in Greece, it took me time to adjust to the accent of my Greek hosts who knew English quite well. I came to understand them quite well. Once in a while we would laugh over a word as they said it much differently and I had to ask more. We found humor in that and often would laugh about it. The more you listen to someone that has learned English as a 2nd language, the more you are able to understand what they say.
The shorter of workers in health care and many fields is a challenge. Thankfully we have those that really want to work in health care and they are getting the support they need through the International Institute of Minnesota. Here’s their website if you care to make a donation or learn more about what they do. www.iimn.org