Help please - the realities of living in France


(Peter Goble) #196

I think my comment about the “open-hearted” French may seem a bit starry-eyed by those Brits (or former Brits perhaps like you Peter) who have to earn a living in a very competitive market, as distinct from us retired, and I can only say my own experience, and my wife’s, has only ever been positive.

I was in a local pôle d’animation today and while waiting got into conversation in French with a woman who told me she was an anglophone Canadian, but we continued to chat in the local language. The staff beamed at us, and I wouldn’t have been surprised had they broken into applause. It may be our age that counts in our favour, but no-one has ever been anything but friendly and affirming. Of course we may one day be disabused of our naïveté, but an occasional snub or insult wouldn’t change our overall impression.


(Timothy Cole) #197

The NHS spends millions on translators every year to cope with around 130 different languages, I doubt any other healthcare system in the world does that.


(Paul Flinders) #198

Different situation - no-one is going to faff around looking for a translator if it would delay life saving treatment. However…

How do you get informed consent if you cannot communicate with the patient?

Current law in the UK is pretty clear that if a patient has capacity to make decisions regarding their healthcare then they have a right to do so.

It is not good enough (again, enshrined in the Mental Capacity Act 2005) to shrug your shoulders and say “sorry, you don’t speak English” - all reasonable efforts must be made to communicate with a patient. If it was a blind patient would you not provide information in Braille, if it was a deaf patient would you not provide someone who could sign?

The Express or Daily Wail might claim it is ridiculous to spend money on translators but the NHS has a duty of care encoded in UK law and this is one way in which it meets its obligations.

To do otherwise would be a dereliction of that duty.

I’d actually be surprised if France does not have something similar to the Mental Capacity Act - so routinely not providing translators might even be illegal in France.


(Simon Armstrong) #199

Same here Ann - they saved, and continue to save my life - total heros and heroines!


(Simon Armstrong) #200

That could definitely be the case - translators must be provided if a non-native speaker is arrested and charged with an offence so surely they’d be provided in a medical emergency…


(Helen Wright) #201

I pretty much knew at the time of purchase that the boiler was living on borrowed time so although I’d have been covered for any damage caused by flooding I didn’t opt for any cover for the actual appliance…my new one is under warranty but I’ll be getting new quotes for house insurance next week so will look at it again…Yes interpreters and translation must presumably be quite a cost to the NHS…also to councils and also to the police…but we have many refugees and asylum seekers and the city is a “dispersal” centre…I was surprised to learn that Chinese is on the list…I’ve not yet had any dealings with the healthcare system in France but have recently found out that our new local doctor speaks English roumanian (and French…!)…My home city also offers Braille and sign language…


(David Martin) #202

There are two sides. I have spent the large part of my adult life living and working in non English speaking countries. I made that decision and have always believed that as an adult I had to take responsibility for my choices and those responsibilities have included learning two additional languages and being prepared to pay for any support that I needed. Perhaps I was wrong.


(Peter Goble) #203

@Aquitaine not at all wrong, David, you have acted in a conscientious and public-spirited way, as well as living up to your responsibilities as an adult exercising choices, and not overwhelmed by circumstances outside your control that constrain them.

But not all immigrants have had access to the educational and financial resources to act as you have done. Some arrive with meagre resources of anything, or none at all, except their utter need to escape poverty, and to help support their families back home. So that’s a third side to consider, I guess, when it comes to immigrants learning English before they arrive, or even after.


(Peter Bird) #204

Quite agree Peter. I have French family (i’m not French born) in Calvados and getting a job when I lived there was a doddle because I had contacts and was considered ‘French’. When I moved to the Charente and then Hte Vienne I knew nobody except people withinthe anglo-french company I worked for. When I was made redundant job seeking was tricky and only a bit of luck saved me.
Socially i’ve never had a problem in France since the early '70s. Life is what you make of it and i’ve found you will get treated well if you show people respect. Bu thats the same anywhere surely ? There’s far too many ‘little Englanders’ over here thinking France owes them something…


(Barbara Deane) #205

France is what you make of it. Life is what you make of it.These are the realities.


(stella wood) #206

Oh Peter… I’m so glad there is another “starry-eyed” on this Forum… :hugs


(Simon Armstrong) #207

However…as I alluded to earlier, we can find bigotry just about anywhere - this time in a New York sandwich shop…

Mind you - the small minded attitude seems to be supported by their President…


(Paul Flinders) #208

No, you were not wrong and, on a personal level, I share your view.

However the NHS has a duty, in law, around consent for medical procedures and treatments - and from these follow a duty to take all reasonable steps to communicate with patients.

£20-30 million a year (note the Express had to use 5 years worth of spend to get its shock horror headline) is a drop in the ocean in terms of NHS spending.


(Chris Kite) #209

https://www.indeed.co.uk/m/jobs?q=Nhs+Interpreter&l=England


(stella wood) #210

and to think that my skills are shared freely…just to be helpful… :upside_down_face:


(Peter Bird) #211

Stay like that Stella, no need to be mercenary.

Sounds corny but it is a great feeling knowing you’ve helped someone (hopefully !)


(stella wood) #212

Actually, you are quite correct Peter… it does sound corny, but it is a really good feeling, especially in a hospital situation… where I can give some comfort and support.

My number gets bandied about and I’ve made friends (of all nationalities) by being the local whom everyone knows to contact in time of whatever sort of need…

Having said that I do it all for free… I’ve never been known to turn down a home-cooked meal, bottle of wine, chocs… or whatever… all very nice, but not compulsory…

And there are many others out there… who enjoy helping others…


(Mandy Davies) #213

Not quite the same but I helped an English couple in a brico shop recently.

They had bought a large, expensive item (may have been a barbecue) and the lady at the caisse asked if they wanted a facture for the guarantee. They had no idea what she was saying so I stepped in.

She then asked me to translate so that she could ask them more questions for the facture, in particular their name and address. They had to give the lady a piece of card with all their details on it.

Neither of them had the most basic French to allow them to get by in a shop. I found that surprising especially as they were obviously living in France because I spotted a carte vitale in the wallet and they were paying with a carte bleue. I noticed they had a French car as well. They even said “We don’t know what we would have done without you here”.

I was happy to help, I often do in the summer when there are lots of Brits on holiday. but you need to have some basic French if you live here.


(Bill Morgan) #214

Mine is basic, but when I apologize, I usually get a smile and a kind, “Oh no I understand”, anything complicated has to wait for Babeths attention :slightly_smiling_face:


(stella wood) #215

Well done Mandy… such gestures can make all the difference.

and I do agree with you… I wonder how folk manage… I know certain friends who will say “oui” even though they do not understand what they are agreeing to… :roll_eyes::thinking: