The manager of a Powys nursing home who set  a new unit for people with dementia during the Covid crisis has won a prestigious award.

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 received a silver award 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 was held in City Hall, Cardiff, and the host was once again the popular tenor and radio presented Wynne Evans, well-known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts. The evening was sponsored by Ontex UK.

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 Group’s 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.

“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 have been nice to be able to nominate all of them,” he said.

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.

He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after the rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.

“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to  have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.

“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.

“There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights and in the months and years to come.

“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.

”We take our hats off to them.”