A couple who opened up their family home and their life to people with dementia are in the running for top award because of their remarkable kindness.

Kate and Trevor Badley provide long-term, respite and emergency care to vulnerable adults on their smallholding near Abertillery, as part of the South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme.

The couple have been shortlisted as finalists at the Wales Care Awards – dubbed the Oscars of social care – at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.

Their particular category, Excellence in Dementia Care, is sponsored by All Care and College Fields Nursing Home, with Ontex UK as main headline sponsor.

The host for the evening will be the popular tenor and BBC Radio Wales presenter, Wynne Evans, who also famously plays the opera singer Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts and the event will be streamed live.

Positive feedback and sincere letters of thanks for the couple’s efforts have prompted scheme co-ordinator Lindsey Hurley to nominate them for the award.

“Since working with Kate and Trevor, I have seen how they are unique carers with extremely valuable skills”, said Lindsey.

“They not only open up their home, but they allowed the scheme to make specific adaptations to their property for the purpose of accommodating Shared Lives arrangements.

“Their commitment to the scheme is commendable. They’ve made long-lasting changes in the lives of the individuals they support and it has been wonderful to see.”

Kate and Trevor became carers under the Shared Lives Scheme four years ago, after moving from Dorset to Wales.

“We knew when we moved here that we wanted to share this home,” explained Kate, a former speech therapist.

“Our children had grown and left home and we had this big space. We love hospitality and also my husband had grown up with his grandmother living in the family home and he felt it was a very positive experience. We wanted to replicate that feeling for others.”

Lindsey said Kate and Trevor had become very much sought after throughout the Shared Lives Scheme and were often requested by name by social workers and families involved in the programme.

“Kate and Trevor have such flexible skills,” she said. “They are always happy and approachable but also honest and transparent. It is refreshing to work so closely with them as the role they undertake always gets done to such an incredible standard.”

Kate said she and Trevor were excited and thrilled to be nominated for their work. Their aim had been to contribute something to the local community.

“Our home is a smallholding really. We encourage our guests to get involved with the gardening. It helps build friendship and trust. Many of the people who stay with us also share our interest in music. But most of all it’s important for them to feel useful, safe and secure,” she added.

As an example of their innovative work, Lindsey described how the couple helped one lady settle into respite care after she struggled with the change of scene.

“The introduction process was quite difficult to begin with as the lady’s dementia was quite advanced and she was very disorientated at home with Kate and Trevor; continuously asking why she was there and when she was going home.

“Kate came up with an excellent idea of asking the lady’s daughter to write her mother a letter explaining where she was, why she was there and when she would be returning home.

“This was the turning point of the arrangement and as a result of this letter, the lady was at ease straight away and reassured.”

Lindsey said this approach was now used often within the scheme, with great 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.

All the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze award, so nobody goes away empty-handed

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 for ever 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.”