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Understanding language needs

In Wales, local authorities and care providers must actively offer and deliver Welsh language services to the same standard as English language services.

Making the active offer

The ‘active offer’ means that staff provide a service in Welsh without someone having to ask for it.

This might mean answering the phone in Welsh or carrying out a full care assessment through the medium of Welsh.

Learn more about the 'active offer'.

Whatever your level of Welsh ability, whether you’re fluent or don’t know any Welsh, a big part of the active offer is being language sensitive.

This means first asking the people you support if they’re Welsh speakers, and, if they are, trying to use Welsh phrases when you talk to them.

Even just saying ‘bore da’ (good morning) or asking someone if they’d like a ‘paned’ (cup of tea) in Welsh can be a big comfort to people.

This will also help reassure families that their loved ones are receiving support in the language of their care need, not in the language they’re using out of necessity.

The free app Gofalu Trwy’r Gymraeg/Caring through Welsh can help you learn phrases and terms specifically about care.

Caring through Welsh app (Android)

Caring through Welsh app (Apple)

Being language sensitive

Being language sensitive is very important in dementia care and equally affects people who speak a language other than English or Welsh.

It also affects people who use British Sign Language.

One of the features of dementia is a progressive reduction in the ability to express ideas as words, and to recognise the meanings of spoken and written words.

Where English was learned as a second language the person may initially mix up English and their first language and then lose the ability to speak English completely, making communication difficult with support workers and younger family members who do not speak their language.

Learn Welsh online: free course for social care workers

The National Centre for Learning Welsh has a free 10 hour online Welsh taster course. This includes a section for social care workers where you can learn:

  • how to ask how people feel
  • parts of the body
  • how to find out if someone is in pain or feels ill
  • asking where their glasses are, walking stick, medication and so on.

Here’s how to register for the course:

  • open the link above. It works best in Google Chrome or the latest version of Internet Explorer
  • click the ‘Get Started’ button on your chosen course
  • click the ‘Create Account’ button
  • complete the form with your details
  • create log in details and accept terms and conditions
  • under ‘Getting Started’, please select ‘Gofal Cymdeithasol Cymru Cymraeg Gwaith’ as your employer
  • you might need to log in to select your employer
  • You will receive an e-mail with a link to start the 10 hour course.

Useful resources

Cân y Gân - a Welsh language music playlist and CD created for care homes and those that provide care to welsh speakers but may not know which songs to play. You can download the collection from the link above

Research links

Improve your practice by accessing the latest research findings.

We want your feedback

Help us to improve the Dementia resource for care professionals by telling us what you think about it in our short four question survey.

First published: 10 October 2018
Last updated: 10 November 2022
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