Green-fingered carer up for top award

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A green-fingered carer who created a flourishing garden for care home residents is in the running for a top award.

Ann Ridgeway, 52, team leader at the Llys-y-Seren Home in Moor Road in Port Talbot, has been nominated in the category of Residential Care Practitioner at the prestigious Wales Care Awards.

The category is sponsored by Christie and Co.

The glittering ceremony will be held at Cardiff’s City Hall on October 18. There she will rub shoulders with the likes of famous tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ad, who is compere for the evening.

The garden at the care home is run with the help of some of the service users. They grow tomatoes, strawberries, chillies and other fruit and vegetables.

She is team leader of the Burton Unit at Llys-y-Seren, which is named after the acclaimed Welsh Hollywood actor Richard Burton. It has 10 residents, some of whom are physically disabled.

Ann, a mother to two and grandmother to four, said: “I find it really, really rewarding to help people enjoy themselves towards the end of their lives.

“When some come into the home they think it everything is virtually over but for some it is just beginning, and it’s lovely to be able to make them happy.”

Ann can also turn her hand to woodworking, and her helpful husband Jeffrey provides the basic materials for her and the residents to make items such as bird boxes, fairy houses and Christmas logs.

She works closely with family members in preparing care plans and also maintains close links with the local community.

Ann, who lives in Cwmafon, was nominated by the home’s manager Karen Rogers.

She said Ann set an example to all members of staff by providing the best possible care while promoting their rights and had done “outstanding work in supporting the organisation to provide an environment where individuals are able to live their lives to the full in a comfortable and pleasant setting”.

Karen added: “She is a good advocate for residents and supports other care staff to understand residents’ care plans and outcomes,” she said. “She has extremely high standards and you will always see her cleaning as well as caring.”

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.”