Workers in domiciliary care should be required to have a basic knowledge of the Dutch language, the VVD party has said.
Around 24,000 of the 146,000 people working in the sector have a minority ethnic background, according to the statistics agency CBS. Although many municipalities include language capability in their job specification there is currently no legal obligation.
The VVD says that staff who perform domestic chores such as cleaning should be able to communicate with their clients, who are often frail and elderly, to check on their wellbeing. Nursing and personal care staff are required to be able to speak Dutch.
VVD MP Antoinette Laan welcomed a statement by public health minister Hugo de Jonge that he supported the idea. ‘The word “care” isn’t in “domiciliary care” for nothing,’ she said. ‘Domestic help can just as well serve as an early warning system. He or she is not just there to wash the windows or clean the bathroom.’
A spokesman for ActiZ, which represents workers in the care sector, said that the need for communication was important, legally binding requirements could place restrictions on who agencies could recruit.
‘We agree that being able to communicate well with clients who you visit at home is a necessity,’ he said. ‘But you can look at it the other way: sometimes it’s better if clients with a migrant background can be spoken to in Arabic.’
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