A young care worker who turned around the fortunes of a care home criticised by inspectors certainly has the golden touch.
Mathew Jones is now Head of Quality, Innovation and Development with the Caron Group based in Ebbw Vale, but it was for his work at the company’s Springbank Home in Barry that he was nominated for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards.
The awards, known as the social car Oscars, are organised by Care Forum Wales to recognise exceptional work in the care sector, and Mathew, 34, won the gold award in the category for Leadership and Management in Residential Care which was sponsored by Christie and Co.
The presentations took place at City Hall, Cardiff, on October 18, and were hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
Born and raised in Amlwch, Anglesey, Mathew originally worked with young adults with learning disabilities as an advanced teaching practitioner but decided on a change of career when he was made redundant.
He joined the Caron Group, previously known as Care Inn Ltd, which has several homes in South Wales, in 2014 and after four months as acting manager at Brynwood Care Home in Brynmawr became manager of Springbank in October the same year.
Operations Director Ramesh Patel, who nominated him for the award, said that Springbank had gone through a troubled period, with nine previous managers since 2009 and an embargo on admissions imposed by the local authority in July, 2014.
Mathew, one of the group’s youngest managers, took up the challenge and within five months the embargo was lifted. Subsequent reports by Care Inspectorate Wales have reflected the improvements carried out.
“He saw it as a challenge to prove to himself and to the company that he was ready to manage his own home at the age of just 30 and, more importantly, he viewed the move to Springbank as a personal goal to improve the lives and well-being of the residents, and to build a staff team that shared his vision,” said Ramesh.
In his three-year spell as manager he introduced fresh, innovative ideas and regular competency checks to ensure that nurses and carers maintain an appropriate level of skills and knowledge to ensure residents’ safety.
In their report of March, 2017, the inspectors said the home’s philosophy and delivery of care promoted people’s well-being, adding: “We conclude that the home is pro-active in providing social and mental stimulation for residents in order to promote their well-being.”
A fluent Welsh-speaker, he has learned Makaton sign language and also has excellent computer skills.
Mathew, who lives in Llansamlet, said he was happy to have found his niche working in the care sector and was thrilled to receive the top award in his category.
“It was a brilliant night and quite overwhelming to be among so many people who have been working in the sector much longer than myself,” he said.
“It was really nice to be able to discuss the challenges we all face.”
It was a particular thrill because among those present with him were his mother Davina Thomas, who works at the Bryn y Mor Nursing Home in Penysarn, near Amlwch, and his sister Shauna.
Mario Kreft, chairman 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 and 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.”