'Use Welsh' drive to help hospital patients' care

Media caption,
Yankir Perez has learnt both English and Welsh since moving to Wales from Cuba

A bid to break down language barriers and put patients at ease has been launched across north Wales hospitals.

Thousands of staff are being encouraged to use Welsh - even if they know just a few words.

Health chiefs said they hope the campaign will have a real impact on care, especially for Welsh speakers with dementia and stroke patients.

Welsh is spoken by over 80% of people in parts of Gwynedd - with about one-in-four in Wales speaking some Welsh.

"What we have noticed over a number of years is that staff who are able to speak Welsh don't use their Welsh because they haven't got the confidence," explained Eleri Hughes-Jones, who is the Welsh language service manager for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

"The aim of this campaign is to encourage them and to reassure them. Even if you can only say a few words - it can make a difference to a patient."

Ward support worker Lesley Ann Davies said it was clear how using the language helped on her elderly care ward at Bangor's Ysbyty Gwynedd.

"It sets a different tone - and they respond much better to me," she said.

"It helps me make sure they get the care they need, because there is more trust there - it is automatic."

The campaign is being promoted in Bangor, at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Denbighshire, and Wrexham's Maelor Hospital.

Image caption,
Welsh on the wards improves care says Lesley Ann Davies

Pharmacy technician Yankir Perez said learning Welsh had made a real impact after he moved to Wales from Cuba six years ago.

"It does make a great difference - especially for patients as well - when they come to hospital they are sometimes really stressed," he added.

"It's not the situation or the place where you want to be. Being able to speak in Welsh to them - I think it makes them happier. I think it's a little bit of respect too."