Healthcare services focus on caring for people as individuals and placing the user at the centre of that care. In the bilingual context of Wales, many people can only communicate their needs for care effectively through the medium of Welsh. Thus Welsh language services are becoming an integral part of health service delivery. Mainstreaming the Welsh language into healthcare education is a way of ensuring that the future workforce has the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to provide bilingual services.
In partnership with the local Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the School of Healthcare Sciences has established a pathway towards bilingual provision for healthcare students at Bangor University (Figure 1). The diagram outlines the route from student recruitment to graduation / registration; and demonstrates the impact of key agencies and strategies in supporting bilingual provision along this trajectory. A brief overview is provided below.
Marketing and Recruitment
The School Marketing and Recruitment Strategy responds to local and national requirements for bilingual service provision through actively recruiting students with the appropriate level of language skills and sensitivity. The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol provides scholarships for students who chose to study all or part of their nursing programme through the medium of Welsh.
On admission to the nursing programme, students are invited to register on bilingual or English medium modules. All Welsh speakers and learners are encouraged to register on bilingual modules to reflect the bilingual learning experiences they will encounter in their theoretical work as well as on clinical placement.
Teaching and Learning: Theoretical
In line with the School Welsh Language Strategy and Teaching and Learning Strategy, language awareness training is provided across all healthcare programmes. Bilingual provision is offered via an inclusive, student-centred approach with key emphasis on active learning that facilitates language choice for students. Core lectures are delivered mainly in English, supported by bilingual learning resources. Group work, tutorial support and assignment supervision are arranged according to language choice, and this choice is extended to oral presentations, adopting simultaneous translation facilities, as appropriate. In line with the Bangor University Welsh Language Scheme , students are encouraged to submit assignments through the medium of Welsh.
Teaching and Learning: Clinical
In line with the Placements Strategy, every effort is made to allocate students to clinical areas where the salient language supports their learning. Providing advance notice to placement areas of the student’s language background helps link Welsh speakers to Welsh speaking mentors and staff. This enhances opportunities for clinical support through the medium of Welsh.
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Students in receipt of a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Incentive Scholarship must provide evidence of at least 40 credits per year studied through the medium of Welsh. This equates with one theoretical assessment worth 20 credits; and one action plan and reflective account from each clinical placement. Similarly, Students in receipt of a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Lead Scholarship must provide evidence of at least 80 credits per year studied through the medium of Welsh. This equates with two theoretical assessments worth 20 credits each; and one action plan and reflective account from each clinical placement.
The new Welsh Government Strategic Framework for Welsh Language Services in Health, Social Services and Social Care ‘active offer’ at the heart of the service. It acknowledges that the concept of language choice and language need has to become an integral part of care services. Moving the responsibility from the user to ask for services through the medium of Welsh, to the service to provide them, is a core principle of this strategic framework where workforce development is key to the delivery of language sensitive services. Enhancing language awareness and language skills for practice are thus core elements for professional development that is fit for practice in the bilingual context.
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