The warmth and helpfulness of a long-serving member of staff at a Treharris care home proved the decisive factor when a young woman applied for a job there.
Kadie Edwards, who had been hesitant about accepting the post at the Trafalgar Park Care Home, decided that she would enjoy working alongside Mary Baber – and her confidence was justified.
Now Kadie is among colleagues supporting Mary as she is in line for a prestigious award in recognition of her unstinting work and dedication.
Mary, who has been a care assistant at Trafalgar Park since 1999, has been nominated for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards.
The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector. Mary, who lives in Treharris, has been shortlisted in the category for Residential Care Practitioner, sponsored by Christie and Co.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 21, when the host will once again be the popular tenor and radio presented Wynne Evans, well-known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts. The evening, which is sponsored by Ontex UK, will be streamed live on the night.
She was nominated by the home’s former manager Kane Thomas, but there was supporting testimony from Kadie and other colleagues.
Kane said he had done so because of her dedication, patient nature, compassion and “for being such an outstanding colleague who represents the core of the care home”.
Mary, he said, puts the residents’ needs first and foremost and knows all their requirements. Several of the residents have dementia, but Mary knows how to calm and reassure them.
“The level of care she provides to residents comes from the heart and she ensures that residents never lose their sense of dignity or individuality in all of the general activities within the home,” said Kane.
In his nomination he also praised the way she dealt with residents’ relatives for whom she is often the first point of contact.
Despite being a technophobe Mary learned how to use Skype to enable relatives to chat to residents and often goes beyond the call of duty, such as helping to redecorate the residents’ lounge after some of them had said they would like it done.
Mary, 50, who is embarrassed but delighted to have been nominated, said: “I just love the work and will carry on as long as I can. I love the residents so much.
“It’s important to work closely with their relatives because they put their trust in us and if they go on holiday they know they can relax.”
In her spare time Mary enjoys swimming and taking long walks in the countryside.
“I can walk for miles, and I find it clears my head, which I think is important,” she said.
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.”