A young care worker who turned around the fortunes of a care home criticised by inspectors is in line for a prestigious award.
After just seven years in the care sector Mathew Jones was recently appointed 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 are organised by Care Forum Wales to recognise exceptional work in the care sector, and Mathew, 33, has been shortlisted in the category for Leadership and Management in Residential Care.
The presentations will take place at City Hall, Cardiff, on October 18, and will be 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, he 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 manager, 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.
“His approach is best described as a research-based drive for best practices, and put ting people first,” said Ramesh. “For example, he was instrumental in building links with the local community and local schools, an example of which is the pen-pal scheme which provides a link between residents and primary school pupils.”
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 delighted to have been nominated.
In his youth he was a keen gymnast and now keeps fit by attending the gym. He is also an adjudicator in the prelims for the dance competitions at the annual Urdd National Eisteddfod.
“I also love to travel overseas, and go a couple of times every year with friends or family,” he said.
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.”