The manager of a Powys nursing home is in line for an award after rising to the challenge of running a new unit for people with dementia during the Covid crisis.

It was a daunting task, but one which Wayne Rees completed with aplomb, and the work he put in during lockdown persuaded his colleagues that it merited some recognition.

Now Wayne, who is manager of Crosfield House In Rhayader, has shortlisted in the category for Leadership and Management in Residential Care in this year’s Wales Care Awards, which is sponsored by Christie and Co.

The awards – dubbed the Oscars of social care –  are organised by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector.

The ceremony will be held 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.

Wayne, 35, from Llanyre, near Llandrindod Wells, was nominated by Matthew Jones, head of the region for the Caron Group, owners of Crosfield House, a 64-bed home.

Wayne was appointed manager five years ago, having spent 11 years in the ambulance service, and his experience as a paramedic has stood him in good stead.

The new 14-bed unit, known as Ty Derw, opened in November, 2021, for residents with dementia and having complex needs.

Anticipating what was about to happen, the Caron Group closed down all its homes in March, 2020, ahead of the national lockdown, which meant Wayne having to run the service without regional teams being allowed to enter the home.

“He put aside his smart attire and put on his scrubs and got ‘stuck in’,” said Matthew.

For months he led his team to support the residents by ensuring that the home was operating as close to normal as possible and contributed to the Groups strategy team on how best to keep the virus out of the homes.

“Thanks to his dedication and commitment to working all hours at Crosfield, he led the team well and managed to keep the virus out of the home for months on end,” said Matthew.

At the same time, Wayne he worked on establishing the new unit, and introduced technology such as sensory equipment to help strategies for those with challenging behaviour.

“The unit was achieved due to Wayne’s determination to maintain his own clinical skills experience as a paramedic and also to his exemplary leadership,” added Matthew.

Wayne said he was amazed to have been nominated and paid tribute to his colleagues at Crosfield House.

“We have 120 staff and it would be nice to be able to nominate all of them,” he said.

Outside of work he and his wife Emma are horse-lovers and show their hacks and hunters at some of the country’s biggest shows, including the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham’s NEC.

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.”