A social care organisation in North Wales has launched a pioneering “grow your own” scheme to tackle the shortage of nurses in the sector.

Two members of staff at Pendine Park, which has care homes in Caernarfon and Wrexham, have become the first to successfully complete four-year nursing degree courses run in conjunction with the Open University.

Amy Rowlands was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree with first class honours, while her colleague, Sioned Williams, gained a 2:1 degree with honours.

The pair work at Pendine’s  Bryn Seiont Newydd care home on the outskirts of Caernarfon.

Proudly wearing the navy coloured tunics of nurses, they are now looking forward to their graduation ceremony in Manchester later this year.

Both said they were “hugely grateful” to Pendine Park for the opportunity to study while working and for the support they received while undertaking the four-year course.

Amy, 30, who hails from Bangor but now lives at Pentraeth near Menai Bridge, left Ysgol Friars in Bangor and spent several years doing a variety of jobs before joining the staff at Bryn Seiont Newydd at the care home’s opening day in October 2015 and hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “Sixth form wasn’t working for me so I left school and found work in a café and at a petrol station before going into the care sector. I’d spent some time taking my grandmother for dialysis and just sitting with her and I knew then a career in care was what I wanted to do.

“Working at Bryn Seiont is my perfect job and I love being part of the team and after gaining a number of NVQ qualifications I later trained as a Clinical Care Practitioner.

“The training involved learning about wound management, nutrition and hydration, medication management and administration and other topics.

“The degree course allowed to learn and earn at the same time. I’m just grateful to Pendine for giving me the opportunity and I’m hoping to study for a master’s degree in future.”

After leaving school, Sioned, 40, from Talysarn in the Nantlle Valley, helped care for her gran and uncle before finding work with Pendine Park.

She said: “I came to Bryn Seiont Newydd soon after it opened and I’ve been here ever since. I trained to be a Clinical Care Practitioner and decided to take up the course to become a nurse.

“It brings a lot more responsibility and entails working on whole new levels. I can make assessments, give medication and when that emergency bell goes I have to respond,” she said.

The mum-of-three also hopes to continue her studies and follow a nurse prescribing course.

Sioned added: “I would not have finished the course without Amy’s support, she was my saving grace.”

Amy and Sioned were the first two from Bryn Seiont Newydd to follow the Open University course and since then other staff at the award-winning home have enrolled on the course.

Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans said seven current members of staff are currently following the same course as Amy and Sioned.

“There is a shortage of nurses in the care sector but this innovative scheme meets demand and trains staff who understand the sector and love working in a care home. It’s the best of both worlds.

“Amy and Sioned have been brilliant throughout and showed great dedication to working here at Bryn Seiont Newydd and we are all so proud of them,” said Sandra.

The care home’s head of nursing and deputy manager, Anne Jones, said: “Pendine Park is the only care organisation in North Wales offering this scheme alongside the Open University.

“Care home nursing is very different to hospital nursing. It’s a varied role and we have to be autonomous. There isn’t a doctor around every corner so you need to be up for the challenge and ready to deal with physical, physiological or psychiatric problems. We also take a holistic approach when we can.”