Legislative and policy context
In 1993, The Welsh Language Act established the principle that the Welsh and English languages should be treated on the basis of equality in the conduct of public business in Wales; and the Welsh Language Board was established to make provisions for the preparation of Welsh language schemes. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 established a new legal framework that confirmed the official status of the Welsh language and imposed a duty on organisations to comply with standards to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh, according to two fundamental principles, that is,
- In Wales, the Welsh language should be treated no less favourably than the English language.
- People in Wales should be able to live their lives through the medium of the Welsh language if they chose to do so.
This means that Welsh speakers can expect to receive information about health and social care research in Welsh as well as English and be offered opportunities to participate through either language, according to their particular needs or preference.
The Welsh Government’s Welsh language strategy, ‘A living language: a language for living’ emphasises that ‘strengthening Welsh-language services in health and social care is regarded as a priority since, for many, language in this context is more than just a matter of choice – it is a matter of need’ (Welsh Government, 2012, 42).
Nevertheless, the ‘active offer’ principle inherent in the ‘More than just words’ strategy for Welsh language services in health, social services and social care calls for ‘a more proactive approach to language need and choice... with responsibility for ensuring appropriate services transferred from the user to the provider’ (Welsh Government, 2012, 6.2.2).
People have an equal right to participate in research that informs policy and practice in health and social care. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that minority populations are under-represented in health research and this can reduce the external validity of the findings as well as deny access to appropriate care and treatment.
The Research Governance Framework in Wales (Welsh Assembly Government, 2009) advocates an inclusive approach to research to enhance its ethical and scientific quality. In supporting access for Welsh speakers, it emphasises the importance of offering information about health and social care research in Welsh as well as English whilst acknowledging individual rights to participate in either language, according to need or preference.