A care worker was doubly delighted when she struck gold at an awards ceremony.
According to Gayle Thomas, from Llangennech, near Llanelli, being honoured at the Wales Care Awards was not only a personal success but a recognition for group of care workers who rarely grab the limelight.
The event organised by Care Forum Wales to highlight exceptional work in the care sector.
The ceremony, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs, was held at City Hall, Cardiff, and was hosted by singer and radio presenter Wynne Evans, popularly known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts.
Gayle picked up the gold award in the category for Excellence in Learning Disability and Mental Health Services, sponsored by Educ8 Ltd and Instead Senior Care.
For the past two years she has worked for Consensus as a member of the Positive Behaviour Intervention Team covering the company’s residential and supported living homes in Wales and the South West.
Her work as a member of the Positive Behaviour Intervention Team work involves assessing new residents, some of whom have complex, challenging behaviour, and drawing up support plans tailored to their needs.
It is a role she relishes and one in which she is able to draw on her 14 years’ experience in working with people with learning difficulties and mental health problems. In that time she has worked in the local authority and private sectors.
“When I saw this job advertised it looked absolutely fascinating, and the Consensus values and ethos are exactly in line with my own, which is to look upon everyone as an individual and as a full person. The support provided is person-centred,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic job and I feel privileged to be able to play a part in the lives of those we support, some of whom are inspirational in the way they have faced things and overcome difficulties.”
One of the rewards of the job, said Gayle, was in giving a voice to those who had previously had no-one to speak up for them.
She enjoys coming up with solutions to the problems being experienced by the supported individuals, which is where her determination to learn Welsh came in.
One of the supported individuals was Welsh and Gayle noticed that he was more relaxed and smiled whenever he heard Welsh spoken, so she decided to pick up some conversational Welsh which would help others.
“I drive around a lot in my work so I listen to Radio Cymru and tapes in the car,” she said.
Gayle was nominated for the award by Simon Kezic-Williams, head of strategy and operations for Consensus in Wales, who praised her direct work with people she supported and as a mentor for colleagues.
“Gayle is a real team player both in her own PBI team and also in the wider team of Consensus,” he said. “She is positive and supportive in times of stress and crisis and able to build a rapport with new teams.”
A film buff in her spare time, she was surprised and thrilled to receive the prestigious award.
“It was a really lovely evening but I am especially pleased about the award because behaviour support teams do a lot of good work without getting the publicity,” she said.
Gayle is not resting on her laurels as she is currently improving her skills by taking two courses, one in counselling and the other in sports massage, which will form part of a more holistic approach.
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.
He added: “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 in the months and years to come.
“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.
“We take our hats off to them.”