Siarad Cymraeg: speak Welsh

Eleri Hughes-Jones explains why board staff are being encouraged to do as our headline states: speak Welsh.

It’s well established that speaking to patients in their first language has a positive impact on their overall care. North Wales has some of the biggest Welsh-speaking communities in Wales. Across most of Anglesey and Gwynedd, in particular, more than 50 per cent of residents speak Welsh. While many of our staff at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board learned Welsh at school, many who aren’t fluent fall out of practice or lack the confidence to try.
That’s why we are actively trying to support staff to feel confident in using Welsh and develop their skills further.
We’ve had some wonderful examples on the staff of people who have moved to North Wales and embraced Welsh, but really want them to feel confident enough to use it with patients. Even a few phrases can help patients feel more at ease and hearing a few familiar words can make an immense difference. 
Carys Norgain, our head of physiotherapy in Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor,  is a great example of a senior leader who recognises the benefits of speaking to patients in their preferred language. She has been extremely supportive of our work and fully gets how much patients appreciate staff trying to communicate as best they can in Welsh. 
Physiotherapists often have contact with some of our most vulnerable patients, such as people living with dementia or stroke survivors, who can revert to their first language.  In instances like this, it becomes a language need rather than a choice, and the patient’s care could be adversely affected if not provided in their first language.
So our message is, don’t worry about how good your Welsh is – just use it!
  • Eleri Hughes-Jones is head of Welsh language, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
Eleri Hughes-Jones Head of Welsh language, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

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