The next big problem facing aged care: How to talk to the culturally diverse patients

April 17, 2016

Joe Caputo says, ideally, carers should be able to speak their patients' languages. Photo: Simon Schluter

Michele Caputo had lived in Australia for almost 30 years when the onset of dementia resulted in him reverting to his native Italian.

The 85-year-old had been independent; living on his own, meeting friends regularly and maintaining his own garden of organic vegetables.  

But Mr Caputo declined in his final years, which he spent in a nursing home where only one staff member spoke Italian. He refused to eat, relying on the daily meal his daughter would bring him  when she finished work. As his dementia worsened, it became even harder for him to express himself.

Joe Caputo with his father, Michele.

Mr Caputo's experience in aged care could become an increasingly common one, with the proportion of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians expected to grow significantly in the next decade. 

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