The manager of an Anglesey care home on a farm where residents collect the eggs and look after the animals has won a top award.
Farmer’s daughter Gwenda Potter was brought up next door to the Regard Partnership’s Beudygwyn Farm at Carreglefn, near Amlwch, where she now works and recalls the residents visiting her home.
Now her exceptional work helping vulnerable people has been recognised at the Wales Care Awards – the social care sector’s “Oscars.”
The annual awards celebrate and highlight the dedication of carers across the country who go the extra mile in looking after those needing support.
Gwenda went into the care profession six years ago and involves the 12 residents of Beudygwyn Farm in the day to day work on the farm.
They are aged between 30 and 70 and have learning disabilities, mental health problems or acquired brain injuries. Gwenda said: “Many of our service users are heavily involved in the work on the farm, one of them cuts the grass and they share the chores.
“It’s a small working farm and having them involved in looking after the sheep and chickens, growing vegetables and collecting eggs is good for them, gives them purpose and new skills and the knowledge of where the food comes from and how it’s produced.”
It’s that imaginative approach to care that has seen Gwenda, 37, win a bronze award for Leadership and Management in Residential Care Services, sponsored by Christie and Co.
A glittering presentation evening, organised by Care Forum Wales, was held at Cardiff City Hall.
The eight-acre smallholding can accommodate up to 14 people and Gwenda, who has a partner and three children, still lives next door and is Welsh-speaking which is often useful as most of the residents are from North Wales.
Other family members had worked at Beudygwyn and Gwenda started there in 2010 as a support worker and trained to become a senior social worker and then deputy manager before taking over.
”I love the job,” she said: “The farm is very rural but it’s only five minutes to the shops and it’s very relaxing and therapeutic.
“It’s very good for the residents to get used to looking after their own environment, to maintain their own home by doing little jobs and the eggs and vegetables produced here are used in the meals they have.
“I wouldn’t change my job at all. As a farmer’s daughter I’ve got the best of both worlds because I’m on a farm and I enjoy a job where little things can mean so much, like teaching a man to fasten his shoelaces for the first time.”
Evette Townley, locality manager for the Regard Partnership, nominated Gwenda for an award, describing her as dedicated and hardworking, and placing residents at the centre of her working ethos.
She said: “Throughout her time Gwenda has worked with the staff, gaining respect from her team both as a support worker and a manager and the service under her leadership continues to grow from strength to strength.
“She strives for high standards of support and inclusion, empowerment and autonomy for the individuals for whom Beudygwyn is home.”
Gwenda holds regular meetings and training sessions for the residents which gives them a voice in their care and allows them to gain knowledge of their own diagnosis.
Evette added: “Gwenda’s dedication, hard work and knowledge have enabled her to become a mentor for other newly appointed managers in the region.
“She provides solid support for those managers by passing on her enthusiasm, dedication and person-centered ethos.”
The MC for the awards evening was opera singer Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the television adverts for Go Compare.
Mario Kreft, the chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.
He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.
“We take our hats off to them.”