The oldest care home manager in Wales is in the running for a top award after a quarter of a century’s outstanding service to her local community.
Fellow staff and residents nominated 77-year-old Mrs Bronwen Morris because of the years of dedication she has shown to The Old Vicarage care home in Llangollen.
That includes rising to the challenge of studying for a new management qualification which she attained six years ago at the age of 71.
“It took me two years but I’m so glad I did it,” said Bronwen, who took over The Old Vicarage 25 years ago with her husband of 54 years, retired accountant Brian.
From the outset they wanted residents to feel as much at home as possible.
Bronwen who previously worked assisting her husband with his Wrexham accountancy business, said: “We’d had no formal experience in the care sector, but we trained hard for 18 months before opening The Old Vicarage.
Bronwen is now the registered care provider and proprietor of The Old Vicarage.
“At first we appointed an experienced manager, but when she moved on I became the manager and have been so ever since. I’m nearly as old as some of our residents myself now, but I still get so much pleasure working here.”
Bronwen’s son David Morris is deputy manager and has now taken over most of the day to day running of the business but hard working Bronwen continues to undertake administrative duties and help with residents’ social care. She even takes several residents to Llangollen WI once a month and accompanies others to the local Wednesday Club.
She is a firm friend of all the residents and cares for them as she would her own family.
It is this compassion which has landed her a place in the final of the prestigious 2015 Wales Care Awards, shortlisted in the Leadership and Management in Residential or Nursing Care category, sponsored by Christie and Co.
This is the 13th anniversary of the awards and the winners will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff on Friday, November 6.
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.
Bronwen, whose mother died just six months before The Old Vicarage opened, is passionate about maintaining high standards of care as well as regular social interaction with residents.
She said: “In the end it comes down to common sense. I cared for my mum before we opened this home and I naturally wanted the very best for her. I know how that feels and I know that the families of everyone who comes to live with us want the very same for their own loved ones. It is important that people feel they are at home, comfortable and among good friends.
“I’ve always got to know our residents personally and love to have a good chat and a laugh with them.”
As well as David, Bronwen and her husband have another son Richard, who lives in Carlisle and daughter Liz, of Ruabon, plus eight grandchildren aged from 13 to 30.
Her son, David, who nominated his mother for the award, said: “Her commitment to day to day care of residents goes above and beyond. She takes residents to the hospital, the day centre, and accompanies six residents every month to WI meetings. She is personally involved in all aspects of activity in here, as well as being a volunteer with the Parkinson’s Society and the Alzheimers Society.”
Lynne Williams, who has worked as a carer at The Old Vicarage 13 years said all the residents and staff think the world of Bronwen, who has been known to sit by the bedside of poorly residents all night to ensure they were comfortable.
“Her compassion is clear to see. Nothing is too much for her,” said Lynne.
As for Bronwen herself, being nominated for such a major award came as a huge surprise to her as she feels she has done nothing out of the ordinary.
She said: “It is so nice to be nominated but I don’t think I have done anything extraordinary. All I have done is care for people as anyone else would do. I believe in treating everyone as you would your own. I’ve made so many good friends here at The Old Vicarage, that as yet I have no plans to retire. I’ll carry on as long as I’m fit enough and able.”
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 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.”