Care home residents raise a toast to Leighton

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A CARE home worker will be the toast of the bar area he created after being shortlisted for a coveted accolade.

Leighton Griffiths, 30, has become a popular figure at Capel Grange Community Nursing Home in Newport since he started working there as a facilities assistant in 2011.

His enthusiasm has been rewarded by being nominated in the Commitment to Quality in Hospitality Award at the annual Wales Care Awards, run by Care Forum Wales.

Leighton’s willingness to provide the personal touch for residents grew when his grandmother, Thelma Hackwood, spent the final two years of her life at the home while suffering dementia.

“That inspired me to help everybody,” reflected Leighton, who was working at the home at the time. “It was an eye-opener.

“I want to make the home an extremely welcoming place. I don’t want it to feel clinicalised.”

As well as performing important maintenance duties, Leighton has built up a strong rapport with residents and given up much of his spare time to maximise their experience.

The home, run by the Linc-Cymru Housing Association, has been enhanced by Leighton’s creative efforts.

This includes devising a bar area, where home members can sit down with loved ones and enjoy a drink out of the fridge.

“It catches everyone’s eye when they come to the home,” said Leighton, of St Julians, Newport.

“It seems to appeal to everyone. We use it to celebrate birthdays or when there is sport on the TV, with the men’s club regularly using it.

“It’s nice to see the residents having a good time together.”

There’s a celebratory atmosphere at the home at the end of each month, with Leighton part of a team which arranges a party for the residents who have recently had a birthday. Activities are also arranged on special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday.

Leighton applies the personal touch when it comes to painting the rooms of new residents.

“I speak to the family beforehand about what is best for them,” he said.

“The room will be painted a colour the resident will be familiar with.

“We want them to come here and feel comfortable.”

It isn’t just in the home that Leighton helps enhance the lives of residents, as he is also involved in taking them on trips to places such as Cardiff Bay and Celtic Manor.

“I just want to make it a better experience for the residents,” said Leighton.

“My day job at the home is the maintenance, but I want to do as much as I can for the people that are there.”

His commitment has not gone unnoticed, leading to him being nominated by manager Edgar Bautista on behalf of the home in this year’s Wales Care Awards.

Having now made the final shortlist, Leighton is looking forward to attending the glitzy ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 18, with his wife Jenne.

The event will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

“I was very surprised to discover I had been shortlisted,” said Leighton. “I’m absolutely delighted.

“I’d never been in the care home environment before I started working here, but I fell in love with the place.

“Every day is that little bit different and I still really enjoy it now. I know other people may not enjoy what they do for a living, so I feel very lucky.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair 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.

“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”