The manager of an Anglesey care home on a farm where residents collect the eggs and look after the animals is in line for a prestigious award.
Farmer’s daughter Gwenda Potter was brought up next door to the Regard Partnership’s Beudygwyn Farm at Carreglefn, near Amlwch, where she now works and recalls the residents visiting her home.
That inspired her to go into the care profession six years ago and to involve the 12 residents of Beudygwyn Farm in the day to day work on the farm.
They are aged between 30 and 70 and have learning disabilities, mental health problems or acquired brain injuries and Gwenda said: “Many of our service users are heavily involved in the work on the farm, one of them cuts the grass and they share the chores.
“It’s a small working farm and having them involved in looking after the sheep and chickens, growing vegetables and collecting eggs is good for them, gives them purpose and new skills and the knowledge of where the food comes from and how it’s produced.”
It’s that imaginative approach to care that has seen Gwenda, 37, short-listed for a Wales Care Award in Leadership and Management in Residential or Nursing Care, sponsored by Christie and Co.
She will be among those attending a glittering event, organised by Care Forum Wales, at Cardiff City Hall on October 21, which celebrates and rewards those who have excelled in the care sector.
The eight-acre smallholding can accommodate up to 14 people and Gwenda, who has a partner and three children, still lives next door and is Welsh-speaking which is often useful as most of the residents are from North Wales.
Other family members had worked at Beudygwyn and Gwenda started there in 2010 as a support worker and trained to become a senior social worker and then deputy manager before taking over.
”I love the job,” she said: “The farm is very rural but it’s only five minutes to the shops and it’s very relaxing and therapeutic.
“It’s very good for the residents to get used to looking after their own environment, to maintain their own home by doing little jobs and the eggs and vegetables produced here are used in the meals they have.
“I wouldn’t change my job at all. As a farmer’s daughter I’ve got the best of both worlds because I’m on a farm and I enjoy a job where little things can mean so much, like teaching a man to fasten his shoelaces for the first time.”
Evette Townley, locality manager for the Regard Partnership, nominated Gwenda for an award, describing her as dedicated and hardworking, and placing residents at the centre of her working ethos.
She said: “Throughout her time Gwenda has worked with the staff, gaining respect from her team both as a support worker and a manager and the service under her leadership continues to grow from strength to strength.
“She strives for high standards of support and inclusion, empowerment and autonomy for the individuals for whom Beudygwyn is home.”
Gwenda holds regular meetings and training sessions for the residents which gives them a voice in their care and allows them to gain knowledge of their own diagnosis.
Evette added: “Gwenda’s dedication, hard work and knowledge have enabled her to become amentor for other newly appointed managers in the region.
“She provides solid support for those managers by passing on her enthusiasm, dedication and person-centered ethos.”
Mario Kreft MBE, Chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”