Former restaurant boss cooks up double gold at care Oscars

A care worker was just recovering  from the shock of winning a gold award at a glittering ceremony when she was called up to the stage a second time.

Former restaurant manager Helen Kermode was among the outstanding winners at this year’s Wales Care Awards, organised by Care Forum Wales to recognise exceptional practice in the sector.

Helen, who hails from Devon, won a gold award in the category for Residential Care Practitioner which was sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner. She had just returned to her seat when she was named as the winner of the Dignity in Care Award for which nominees in all the categories were eligible.

“I didn’t even know the award existed and I had just started to relax, but it was a real thrill to receive it,” she said.

Helen decided to move to the Swansea area seven years ago because she liked the place and its people so much, but she didn’t have a job to go to.

“I just felt I wanted something more fulfilling,” she said.

In 2009 Helen joined Tracscare as a support worker and in August, 2015, was promoted as Deputy Manager of Ty Camlas, the company’s service at Ystradgynlais which accommodates eight people with mental health needs.

She was nominated for the award by Tracscare’s marketing manager Gemma Howells and the manager of Ty Camlas Hayley Phillips, both of whom have been impressed by her enthusiasm, commitment and skill in preparing and maintaining up-to-date support plans to help the residents on the road to recovery.

“Helen will always go that extra mile and will evaluate how to improve the lives of the people she supports,” said Gemma. “She is an inspirational woman and a role model to all, and her interactions with those she supports easily shows the trust and respect they all have for her.”

As a mentor to other staff Helen has devised an exercise which they complete on a monthly basis, resulting in their being more involved in each person’s pathway.

Helen, now 40, said she had never considered working in the care sector before moving to Swansea but did not regret the switch at all.

“I love it here – the work, the people and the place – and we have a fantastic team,” she said.

She said she enjoyed “thinking outside the box” when it came to ways of changing people’s lives for the better, a quality which Gemma also highlighted.

She cited the case of one resident who enjoyed walking into the village but sometimes became confused, so Helen came up with the idea of providing her with a laminated card bearing details of the home which she could carry in her pocket.

“This resulted in the woman continuing to enjoy her walks but with the reassurance that if she does lose her way she can pass the card to someone who can contact the home,” said Gemma.

When not in work Helen, who lives in Swansea, loves nothing more than walking around the Gower.

Mario Kreft, the Chair 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.”