A Gwynedd woman who devotes her life to caring for vulnerable people in her own home has been shortlisted for a major award.
Teresa Francis, 55, who lives in Llanbedr, started her career in caring 20 years ago as part of Gwynedd Council’s child protection team and later moved into fostering children.
Five years ago she became an Enabler for the council’s Shared Lives scheme which means vulnerable adults being given the chance to stay, on either a long or short term basis, within a loving home environment.
The care and attention she provides for them, such as taking them out on day trips and arranging their birthday parties, has landed Teresa a place in the final of major national competition, the 2017 Wales Care Awards.
This is the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday November 17 and will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.
Teresa is shortlisted in the Community Living Care Practitioner category of the awards.
Originally from the village of Mynytho on the Llyn Peninsula, she attended the local Ysgol Botwnnog and her first job after leaving school was as a counter assistant at the Post Office in Abersoch.
She then had a variety of jobs in cafes and shops in the Abersoch area before moving into a career in care and becoming a support worker for the council’s child protection team.
Teresa said: “That was 1997 and I’ve been working in care ever since. At one stage I was in home care, dealing with children who were sick and suffering from things like cystic fibrosis. I then looked after youngsters with learning disabilities supporting them at home and in the community.
“About 16 years ago, almost by accident, I started fostering children. It happened after a placement for two boys fell through and social services asked me if I’d care for them in my home.
“I fostered children for a number of years before I became an Enabler for Shared Lives in 2012.
“That means enabling vulnerable adults to live in a home environment, which I currently provide for a lady in her sixties on a long-term basis. I also provide short-term respite care for two young men in their thirties and an elderly lady.”
All of the people Teresa supports have their own comfortable room at her home and she also arranges outings and other special treats for them.
“I accompany the young men on trips to rugby matches, which is no problem as I’m a big fan of the Ospreys, and sometimes I go with the lady who is with me long-term on outings to places like Harlech. I also arranged her 60th birthday party,” she said.
“My partner, Charlie, has a good relationship with all the people who stay with me and they also get on well with my grandchildren – of which I have four – when they come to visit.
“I love what I do and I suppose I’ve always been quite a helpful and caring person. I believe the people who stay with me are just in need of a break away from things.
“I was quite surprised and very pleased to be shortlisted for the Wales Care Awards and I’m really looking forward to going down to Cardiff with Charlie for the presentation evening.”
Peter Price, Shared Lives Officer for Gwynedd Council who nominated Teresa, said: “It is clear this is a way of life for her as opposed to an occupation.
“Selfless, dedicated and genuine is how people describe Teresa whose fulfilment comes from the happiness of others.”
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.”