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5th May 2022

Research project into the importance of Welsh language in care homes

PhD student, Angharad Higgins has grown up speaking Welsh and couldn’t imagine her life without it. When working in a local hospital she saw first-hand the challenges of providing care to first language Welsh speakers, which got her thinking how this translates into care homes.

Her research project, part of her PhD is called Hiraeth, which translates into a deep longing for a time or a place that is lost, especially one’s home.

The study will include an online questionnaire filled out by care homes as well as a series of interviews with residents and their families about their experience of speaking Welsh, especially during the past two years dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

Social care research

Angharad said: “I’m going to start my research by life mapping, which involves talking to care home residents about their experiences with Welsh. I’ll ask how where and when they have used Welsh in their lives, for example with their parents, their children, in chapel and how often they use it now. I am particularly interested in how being able to speak Welsh, or not makes them feel.

“Previous studies in other countries have shown an increase in loneliness and impact on mental health for people in care who aren’t speaking their first language, so I wanted to see if that experience is the same here in Wales.”

Quality of life

Research is just as important at any age to continue to improve lives. Angharad said: “I couldn’t imagine spending my last days not incorporating Welsh into my life, it’s a part of who I am. I want to understand more about the effect speaking Welsh has on people and share best practice to help care homes in Wales to provide as much dignity as possible and ensure a great quality of life at any stage in life.”

The Hiraeth study is still looking for care homes to get involved. This could involve an initial chat with the study team to getting your residents and their families involved.

Deborah Morgan, ENRICH Cymru manager, said: “This is a great stepping stone for care homes looking to get involved in research. It starts with an initial chat and could end up being part of a lovely project for the residents to get involve in, chatting to a new friendly face reminiscing about how Welsh has played such an important part in their life.

“We’d love for an ENRICH Cymru care home to get involved and can help you every step of the way, I’d encourage you to get in touch with Angharad and the team.”

What Welsh means to us?

Angharad continued: “I’m really interested in seeing how Coronavirus has also impacted people. For some, contact with family has been their connection to Welsh and without being able to speak their own language, I wonder how that made them feel.

“As part of my preparation I’ve started to have conversations and preliminary research and heard from people about how they use Welsh, for one lady it was to sing hymns in Chapel which she misses dearly.

“By knowing this and making small adjustments care homes could change lives.

“Some care homes are doing amazing things and making small changes that improve people’s lives which I want to share as, if this research could improve just one person’s life, then I know it has been worthwhile.


For more information about the Hiraeth study contact Angharad. Or chat to one of our ENRICH Cyrmu coordinators.