A £7 million centre of excellence for dementia care in Gwynedd has been crowned as the best new care home in the UK.
Bryn Seiont Newydd, in Caernarfon, took the top prize in the main category at the prestigious Pinders Healthcare Design Awards 2016.
The glittering Oscars-style presentation ceremony attended by 2,000 people was held at the four-star Lancaster Hotel, in London.
Bryn Seiont Newydd was opened by the Pendine Park care organisation last November on the leafy five-acre site of the former Ysbyty Bryn Seiont community hospital on the outskirts of Caernarfon.
The bilingual, 71-bed facility is already full and has created more than 100 much-needed jobs in the area.
The centre, designed by Denbigh-based chartered building surveyors Wynn Rogers and built by Ruthin-based Carroll’s, is divided into eight small, family-like units so that the residents receive individual care and attention while benefiting from the back-up of a larger organisation
Work is now underway to build 16 companion living apartments to help couples stay independent for longer.
The development is the brainchild of Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, who founded the company just over 30 years ago when they were unable to find suitable social care for their own grandparents.
The couple now run seven other care homes in Wrexham, a domiciliary care company and their own in-house training organisation, employing a total of around 800 people.
Mr Kreft, who is also the chair of Care Forum Wales and received his MBE for services to social care, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Bryn Seiont Newydd has been recognised as the best new care home in the UK.
“We are particularly proud that we have been able to invest in North West Wales and build Bryn Seiont Newydd without any public funding.
“The fact there has been so much interest so soon is a clear demonstration of the need for the services that we are providing here for the community.
“We have been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome we have received from the local community and the genuine enthusiasm for what we are aiming to achieve.
“While getting the fabric of the building right was extremely important, what makes Bryn Seiont even more special is the fantastic, committed team we have working here.
“The golden thread running through everything we do is our award-winning enrichment programme which put the arts right at the centre of how we improve the quality of life for our residents and also the staff looking after them
“We have appointed a musician and an artist in residence because we want our residents to have opportunities to engage in the arts and music as we know from experience the massive benefits this can bring to their lives.”
Among those representing Pendine Park at the awards ceremony was Sarah Edwards, who works on a consultancy basis as their artist in residence.
Ms Edwards, who was responsible for the acclaimed interior design of Bryn Seiont, said: “This is a fantastic accolade for Bryn Seiont Newydd and I feel honoured and privileged to have been part of the team who made it all happen.”
Equally proud was Sandra Evans, the manager of Bryn Seiont Newydd.
She said: “We already have an Investors in People gold award in Wrexham and this is something we would like to extend to Caernarfon, using our own training company, the Pendine Academy of Social Care.
“The value of high quality and relevant training is at the heart of our philosophy which is why we have developed our own bespoke training programme in which the arts are embedded for all our members of staff, including the admin, maintenance and cleaning teams.
“We are determined to create something really special here at Bryn Seiont Newydd and the site itself, that’s fringed with mature trees, is the perfect setting.”