A bubbly care worker who says entertaining elderly dementia sufferers has provided her with a positive outlet for her ADHD has been shortlisted for a top award.
Natasha Williams has lived with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms since childhood but said it was not until she was appointed as the activities and fundraising manager for the Meddyg Care Group, which has two specialist dementia care homes in Criccieth and Porthmadog, that she found a way to apply her boundless energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
ADHD is a condition that affects people’s behaviour, often making sufferers feel restless, impatient and preventing them from concentrating.
Mum-of-two Natasha, who was born and raised in Criccieth, says her role as an activities and fundraising manager has given her an excuse to unleash her excitement and enthusiasm for a good purpose.
From arranging close encounters with snakes and spiders through to booking performances by ballerinas and local performing artists, Natasha will do anything to engage her residents.
She even convinced company bosses to turn a lounge into a pub and hunted down authentic memorabilia including a brass bell, beer pumps and chairs to bring her vision to life.
The 29-year-old, who married her childhood sweetheart James earlier this summer, has now made the final of the Wales Care Awards in the Promoting Fulfilled Lives category, sponsored by Boots Care Services.
The ceremony is organised annually by social care champion Care Forum Wales which supports more than 450 care homes, nursing homes and other independent health and social care providers across Wales.
Natasha will now attend a glittering ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21, hosted by popular tenor, Wynne Evans, best known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
“I’m so overwhelmed!” she said.
“I love my job and I’m constantly looking for ideas to do more. One of the reasons why I love it so much is I’ve never been told no!
“I feed off other people. I’m such an enthusiastic person and I always think to myself ‘imagine having a boss that says no!’ Of course, I’ve had to wind it in a bit at times, but they have never burst my bubble. It’s this that gives me the oomph to continue and if it wasn’t for my employers, I don’t think I would be as enthusiastic and always wanting to make change.
“This last week I’ve been on my hands and knees painting a yellow brick road in the garden! Everything I’ve asked for I’ve been given.
“I’m extremely proud to have made the shortlist. I’m a very dramatic person as you can imagine and so this is absolutely amazing for me!”
Natasha, who attended Ysgol Treferthyr in Criccieth, studied for a degree in dance at the London School of Dance. After university, she took on retail jobs and shifts in restaurants, pubs and clubs until the birth of her son six years ago when she needed a more flexible job.
She secured a role as a carer at Meddyg Care’s Criccieth home and was promoted to team leader within two years before further promotion as a senior carer and then as activities and fundraising manager across both homes – a role she says could not have been more suitable.
“I was so hyperactive as a child,” she said.
“In swimming lessons, they’d try and teach me things but I was busy being a shark, in ballet I’d see how many spins I could do while the rest of the class were learning something else and in karate I’d spend my time sliding from room to room on the floor in my socks – I was always known as the destructive one! Everyone knew I had ADHD but my mum didn’t want people to put a label on me.
“Although it has got easier, I still have the traits. I can’t sit still – I find it very hard – and that’s where the activities role came my way.
“I now look after residents with dementia who struggle to remember their family members, but they call me a beautiful headache!”
Natasha was nominated for the award by Kevin Edwards, Managing Director of Meddyg Care.
He said: “Natasha is the epitome of an employee that goes above and beyond for our residents, their families and her colleagues.
“Natasha’s bright smile, cheery demeanour and outgoing personality brings warmth to our homes and her familiarity with all our residents is testament to her dedication as our Activities Manager.
“Meddyg Care are incredibly proud of Natasha and having been shortlisted for the Promoting Fulfilled Lives Award only further highlights that she is a true `superstar’ and has a bright future ahead of her. We wish Natasha every success.”
Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
He said “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.
“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.
“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.
“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.
“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.
“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.
“They are Wales’s finest.”