I was reminding myself the other day what the CQC guidance on employing staff in Health and Social Care roles says. and turned to Outcomes 12, 13 and 14 to refresh my memory. In essence, an employee has to be fit for the role.
The law uses the word “fit” in relation to working persons as meaning two things. That they are physically and mentally well enough to do what is asked of them. Also that they are of good character. Honest, reliable, diligent and are properly qualified, experienced and skilled enough to perform the job role.
That is a lot for one small three lettered word to carry. If that is not enough meaning for one little word, the word fit also carries a meaning familiar to the younger generation. The connotations of which I was woefully innocent of a few years ago. The service user group I was then working with were adults with severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems. I happened to mention an observation that one of the young men I had responsibility for was fit. I meant it in terms of physical stamina, and nothing else.
Unfortunately the younger member of staff to whom I was talking, took me to mean the word fit in the context of the way she understood it. That I found the service user sexually attractive. I wondered at the time why she went so quiet and looked at me the way she did. A little later, I was called in by my line manager to discuss boundaries. I found myself close to receiving a verbal warning until the breakdown in communication, the lost in translation, aspect of the incident was understood.
Remembering this incident as I considered how to evaluate staff being fully fit for the role demanded of them, made me think how much communication issues impinge upon delivery of care. Where English is not the mother tongue can be the least of the hurdles to overcome. At least we are aware of that. Managers are usually pretty good at making the necessary allowances, creating support systems in these cases. However, misunderstandings can and will happen due to age, educational levels, social influences and cultural assumptions. The risk these sorts of misunderstandings pose is not always obvious, but should be considered. Never assume you speak the same language even when you do, is my last word on the subject.