Jane Kelso from Elliots Hill Care talks about how they have made changes within their care home to learn and use Welsh with residents.

Can you describe your care home before you made changes?

In our care home, which has been running for more than 27 years, we have always had some residents whose first language was Welsh, but who were able to converse through the medium of English as they had been in long stay wards in psychiatric settings where there was limited Welsh spoken. Pembrokeshire, below the ‘Landsker’ line, is known as ‘Little England beyond Wales’ and trying to recruit Welsh speakers has been problematic! However we have always had at least one Welsh speaker, so we coped. Several times, we tried different initiatives with Welsh words stuck all over the home! This caused chaos when those that lived in the home often disagreed with the way the Welsh had been written (apparently Solva Welsh is not the same as Carmarthen Welsh) – causing more confusion for us as staff!

Why did you decide to make changes?

Having listened to the Care Council’s talk at the All Nations seminar in Cardiff, I was moved to take on board the importance of the Welsh language for those who lived with us. After all, they grew up with Welsh being spoken within the family unit and at the very least we should try and make an effort as a whole group.

How did you move forward?

Before, I had tried to encourage staff to attend Welsh classes in college but to no avail. With renewed resolve, we worked with our training co-ordinator and Pembrokeshire College and made a decision: learning Welsh in the home as a whole group would be the most effective option. We could have a better attendance and the people we support could feel motivated to support us and perhaps have a sense of importance that we were all trying to speak Welsh.
We started with conversational Welsh, as the Care Council suggested it was so important. We arranged an afternoon session in the home with Janice from the College. All the staff were happy to join in.

Were there any difficulties?

The time that Janice comes can be quite difficult to get all staff in for. But, we always have tea and cakes while learning our Welsh, which is always a great incentive!

Was it a success?

I cannot tell you what a success this was! It was a win-win situation. All staff gave feedback about how much they enjoyed it!
Residents felt a belonging, and the interaction and laughter between all was wonderful to see. We had made the effort, and they loved it.

Will there be long-term effects from this initiative?

Long-term effects: laughter, a sense that we respect those who speak Welsh and who live with us, and us all being able to communicate basic Welsh phrases. We are continuing on after a break so hopefully this winter we will all be able to sing the Welsh National Anthem in Welsh!

Would you do it again?

Would we do it again? Yes, every time! The people we support felt valued.

Your experiences?

If you have an example of improving Welsh language provision in your workplace, we’d like to hear from you.