Since it’s launch in 2012, the Welsh Governments strategic framework; More than just words has led to a number of improvements which helped ensure Welsh speakers receive health, social services and social care services in their first language. This has been achieved by making the best use of the existing skills and resources across the care sector.
In 2016 the strategic framework was revised. Its aim…to maintain momentum but also support a greater level of recognition among service providers that the use of the Welsh language is not just a matter of choice but also a matter of need. It is especially important for many vulnerable people and their families who need to access services in their first language, such as older people suffering from dementia or stroke who may lose their second language or very young children who may only speak Welsh.
This is known as making an ‘Active Offer’. Many of you may already be providing an ‘Active Offer’. But for some of you, this will be a new concept.
What is an ‘Active Offer’?
An ‘Active Offer’ simply means providing a service in Welsh without someone having to ask for it. The Welsh language should be as visible as the English
• It means creating a change in culture that takes the responsibility off the service user to ask for a service through the medium of Welsh.
• Providing a service that is service user-centred is fundamental to the ‘Active Offer’. What this means in practice is providing a tailor-made service that enables the individual to be assured that he/she is in control and fully understands the services being offered.
• Making an ‘Active Offer’ means not making assumptions that all Welsh speakers speak English anyway! It ensures Welsh-speaking service users are treated with dignity and respect by asking them what their preferred language is and acting on it.
• What is needed is a proactive approach that ensures language need is identified as an integral part of safe high-quality service provision.
• Making an ‘Active Offer’ is also about creating the right environment where service users feel empowered and confident that their needs will be met.
Are you delivering an ‘Active Offer’?
There are numerous ways to provide an ‘Active Offer’ but one of the first tasks to undertake is an assessment of the Welsh language skills your staff already possess. This information will be invaluable to your setting and will allow you to effectively plan for a bilingual workforce. A bilingual workforce doesn’t mean that every staff member needs to be fluent in Welsh, but it does mean having an appropriate number of Welsh speakers on your team.