Port Talbot Care Home Mr Fix-it Up for National Award

A maintenance man who has fixed it for life to be a little more special for residents at the Port Talbot care home where he works has been shortlisted for a top award.

Apart from his regular round of looking after the 60 residential rooms plus communal areas and tending the extensive grounds at POBL’s Llys y Seren home, 59-year-old Clive Sparrow has taken special courses in dementia care and even started up woodworking and gardening clubs for residents.

It is this dedication and commitment to his role that has landed Clive, who lives in Bryn, near Port Talbot, a place in the final of major national competition, the 2018 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 October 19.

The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation which is celebrating its own 25th anniversary this year after being 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.

Clive is shortlisted for the Commitment to Quality in Housekeeping and Hospitality Award.

Originally from Abercregan in the Afan Valley, his first job after leaving school was as a milk roundsman at the age of 17.

He then worked in an electrical components factory until 1983 when he decided to set up his own business doing a similar line of work.

A few years later he decided to change the focus of his career and looked towards becoming a handyman in the care sector.

Thirteen years ago Clive started work at two local authority care homes, in Cwmavon and Morfa Afan, while still running his factory, which he continues to do today. This meant that he was working many hours a week between the two jobs.

In 2014 the two homes merged to become Llys y Seren and Clive became facilities assistant there.

His managers say he creates a “warm, friendly and homely atmosphere” for the 60 residents, many of who have dementia, and who supported his nomination for the Wales Care Awards.

His senior colleagues speak of him in glowing terms and say he considers no job too large to take on.

Clive recently took part in a dementia workshop run by the community psychiatric nurse and, on his own initiative, has set up woodwork and gardening clubs for the residents. Produce from the home has many top prizes at local gardening competitions.

Clive, who has been married to his wife Diane for 35 years and two children and two young grandsons, said: “I love my job and the freedom it gives me to help keep things looking nice and running properly.

“Gardening is my absolute passion, which is why I set up the club at the home. I’ve also just started what we call a ‘men’s can’ club which is more for the men than the ladies who tend to be in the majority in the gardening club. I like to go with them on trips out and not long ago we enjoyed a great day at a Welsh international rugby match.

“I find it so rewarding working with people who have dementia. While it can be sometimes be either funny, heartbreaking or sad the aim is to treat them as you would like to be treated yourself.”

He added: “I was absolutely shocked to learn that I had been shortlisted for the Wales Care Awards as I’m really just a humble gardener. It was also very emotional for me to read the nice things people at the home had said about me in my nomination form.

“I’m looking forward very much to attending the awards ceremony in Cardiff and I’ll be going there with my wife and another member of staff from Llys Y Seren.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and 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.”

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