logo Estyn Llaw
Help / Cymorth

Language and Dignity in Care

The message

Language and Dignity in Care is one of the key themes driving our field officers’ work.

The principle is that effective communication is an essential element of the quality and safety of health services. When an individual is in a period of weakness or is feeling vulnerable having to converse in a second language can cause greater barriers to an experience that’s already difficult or uncomfortable.

More Than Just Words,the Strategic Framework for Welsh Language Services in Health, Social Services and Social Care notes:

‘Health, social services and social care focus on caring for people as individuals, placing the user at the centre of care. Many people can only communicate and participate in their care as equal partners effectively through the medium of Welsh. Service providers have a responsibility to meet these care needs.’

This is discussed in the Welsh Language Commissioner’s document. My Language, My Health: Inquiry into the Welsh Language in Primary Care

'Research indicates that unless a patient receives service in his/her first language, this adds to a feeling of being powerless and vulnerable. It is also acknowledged that communicating in a second language is especially difficult when someone feels confused, frightened or stressed.

The Proactive Offer

The principle of the active offer in Wales is borrowed from Canada. The concept of language need has become an integral part of care services. This means moving the responsibility from the user to ask for services through the medium of Welsh, to the service which must ensure it provide them. It recognises that not all Welsh speakers are able to ask for Welsh language services. Many factors can effect an individual’s ability to do this.

Rôl Estyn Llaw

Estyn Llaw supports a range of different organisations raising their awareness of the language needs of individuals receiving care. The aim is to support them to change the way they work with service users – especially those who are vulnerable.

The work focuses on the experiences of service users and collecting examples of good practice. The aim is to ensure that the voices and experiences of service users are heard.

By working with service providers, we hope to have a positive impact on the dignity and self-respect of service users and the experience of receiving care from a public or voluntary organisation.

You can find more information about Estyn Llaw’s training courses here.


Below are some case studies that were collected as part of the research for ther the ‘More than just words’ strategic framework, 2012. These individuals discuss the impact of not receiving services in a first language.

Gwenan Prysor
Hywel Williams
Deris Williams
Iola Gruffydd
Design: Dafydd Jones     Website development and hosting: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.