A Nantyglo woman has enjoyed gold and silver celebrations within 48 hours.
For two days after her 50th birthday Helen Beecham was among the recipients at this year’s Wales Care Awards at a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff at which the MC was opera singer and TV presenter Wynne Evans.
The awards are organised by Care Forum Wales to recognise exceptional work in the care sector and Helen won a silver award in the category for Leadership and Management in Residential Care Services.
Since July, 2015, Helen has been the Registered Manager of Glanbury Care Home in Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, one of four homes on the site owned by Plasgeller Care Homes Ltd. The home accommodates up to 39 people over the age of 60 with dementia.
Originally from nearby Cwm Celyn, she formerly worked in the accounts department of a local manufacturing company, but her husband died 16 years ago when their daughter was just a month old and their son 6.
”It was quite a high-pressure job and I needed to spend more time with my family,” she said.
Her friend and work colleague of 16 years, Sheila, persuaded her to join the Care Sector and she took to it immediately. Starting as an Office Manager, then an Overseas Recruitment Manager, an Activity Co-ordinator and then as Registered Manager of Brynwood Nursing Home the general nursing home on the same site for 6 years.
She was nominated for the award by Plasgeller’s Operations Manager Alexander Kelleher, who said that colleagues, relatives and service users all supported the nomination.
“When I started work with the company I immediately noticed that Helen had very special skills and compassion for the whole Plasgeller Care Homes site,” she said.
“Within three months she had changed the culture within the home. The staff and older people living there have more enriched lives and it is apparent that there is relationship-centred care.”
According to Alex, relatives of the residents have commented on the different “feel” Glanbury now has.
“When you walk into the home piped reminiscent music welcomes you and directs you through an environment filled with memories, colour and laughter”, she said.
Following their latest visit, inspectors from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales commented on the recently introduced weekly programme of activities, adding: “This had incorporated a good practice guidance recommended by the Older Person’s Commissioner for Wales in providing ‘magic moments’ for people.”
They also highlighted the understanding staff had of dementia care and an awareness of people’s likes and dislikes.
Helen said she took to working in the care sector because she had always been a “people person”.
“I just love my job and the people I care for,” she said.
“I was absolutely chuffed to be nominated and shortlisted.”
Outside of work Helen enjoys spending time with her family – daughter Lydia 16 and her son Bradley 22. Helen said “without the support of my parents over the last 16 years none of this would have been possible.”
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.”