Gwent Ambulance Volunteer in Pursuit of Wales Care Award

A popular care home manager who volunteers with St John’s Ambulance on his days off is in the running for a top award.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Martin Taylor, registered manager at Leadon Court Care Home in Thornhill, Cwmbran, contributes up to 30 hours of his free time every month helping the first aid charity at public events – in addition to his demanding role as leader of a 34-bed nursing home.

The 33-year-old, of Gwent Street, Pontypool, couldn’t make up his mind whether to become a paramedic or a professional care worker when he was a teenager. He eventually decided to combine both his passions and has trained to the highest level in both roles, administering medical care in a variety of dramatic and life-endangering situations and helping his care home residents to lead happier and more comfortable lives.

His commitment and dedication to helping people has not gone unnoticed and he has now made the final of the Wales Care Awards 2015 in the Leadership and Management in Residential or Nursing Care category, sponsored by Christie & Co.

It’s been a smooth rise to the top for Martin, who took on his first care assistant role in Pontypool at the age of 18, having completed a GNVQ in care at college. With two years’ experience volunteering for St John’s Ambulance under his belt, the work felt natural to him and gave him personal satisfaction.

“I was just born to care,” he said. “I just knew as I was growing up I wanted to either be a paramedic or a carer. I’ve always been that way, looking after people.

“It’s really rewarding when you sit down with an elderly resident and they thank you and tell you how glad they are that you’re in today. It’s the little things like that that show you’re making a difference.

“I’m 33 now and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

With his volunteering work, Martin has trained to Emergency Transport Attendant (ETA) level which means he can provide emergency transportation and a high level of responsive first aid care. He is qualified to extract a patient from a car, place an injured patient on a spinal board and even deliver a baby – although this is one scenario he hasn’t yet come across.

Martin regularly provides cover with St John’s Ambulance at a local motorbike racing event and has tended to injured motorcyclists before the arrival of the air ambulance. His experiences of responding in an emergency situation have enhanced his professionalism at work.

“I’ve had situations in work where I’ve had to carry out resuscitation or cardiac arrest and I’ve come across road traffic accidents where I’ve made sure the patients have been ok,” he said. “With my extended skills, I can use a defibrillator and administer oxygen so if anything happens in the care home I can deliver medical care immediately.

“I’ve got a really good team around me. We have young girls from 18 years old right up to our oldest carer who’s 70 and has a wealth of experience. The staff have all been here a long time, they’re local and they love coming to work which makes the place what it is.”

Martin has been praised by colleagues for his sensitive approach to end of life care and the support he provides to residents and their family during this difficult time.

“The last person they might see could be ourselves and we’ll sit down and talk about how their day has gone, knowing they can still hear us and that we’re there for them and their families,” he said.

Martin was surprised to be nominated for the award as he prefers to stay out of the limelight.

“I’ve never won any award before, I’m quite reserved. I’m just doing what any person should be doing. We don’t become carers for the money. If you put your hand on your heart you can honestly say you’re doing the best for the residents,” he said.

“I might have dementia one day and I would want someone who makes me feel human rather than a patient and someone who can make me laugh and have banter with me.”

Martin lives by the philosophy ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and colleagues say his magnetic personality has made him a hit with the residents.

He was nominated by Alexandra Kelleher, who was director of nursing for the Summerhill Group when she put him forward, said: “Martin has the most incredible humour and has banter with residents, staff and any visiting professional. I have never met anybody so committed to his work and with such a true love of the people he looks after.”

As a finalist, Martin will now attend a glittering awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, November 6.

The prestigious national awards, run by Care Forum Wales, acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

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 and are seen as the Oscars of social care. 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.”