A teenager who became a care worker in her local community during the pandemic, is in the running for a top award.
Megan Haskell, from Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan, was nominated for a prestigious Wales Care Award after impressing colleagues and clients with her people skills.
She took the unusual step of becoming a home carer with All Care (South Wales) when she was just 18 and still studying for her A levels.
During the pandemic, when many of her elderly clients were confined mostly to their homes, she organised morale boosting events, including garden visits from a gift bearing ‘bunny’, to tempt them outside over Easter.
Megan has been shortlisted for the Supported Living and Care Practitioner, sponsored by Educ8 Training.
Megan and two others shortlisted in this category have been invited to attend a glittering Wales Care Awards Event, sponsored by Ontex UK, at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.
The host for the evening will be the popular tenor and BBC Radio Wales presenter, Wynne Evans, who also famously plays the opera singer Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts.
Nominating her for the award, her manager Jane Davies described Megan as “remarkable with a cheery personality and great determination.
“She works permanent shifts for us on a weekly basis and is passionate in her delivery of care across the community. The genuine enthusiasm that she shows when caring for individuals in their own homes is very evident as soon as you encounter her as a person,” said Jane.
“During Lockdown people did not leave their houses, but one sunny Easter morning during this period Megan and a colleague managed to encourage one of our housebound individuals into her wheelchair and out into the garden to receive Easter gifts from the ‘bunny’.
“This was the first time this lady had been outside in her own garden for a very long time and the look on her face said it all.”
Thrilled with her nomination, Megan said her decision to become a care giver was inspired by her ambition to become a paramedic.
“I thought the work would give me valuable experience and it did. It was stressful at times, especially during the pandemic when I had to manage with the PPE and masks, but you just have push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes,” said Megan, who is now 19 years old.
“It was rewarding though, to know that I made a difference.”
Megan has achieved her dream of training to be a paramedic and has been accepted by Bournemouth University to study Paramedic Science this September. But it’s not the end of her careers as a care giver. She is staying on as part of Allcare’s bank team and will help out during holiday periods.
“I can’t bear to leave this work that I so love,” she said.
Jane her manager hopes Megan’s story will inspire others of her generation to try a career in care giving.
“Despite her age, which on occasions can be judged by the older generation as not suitable for their needs, Megan persevered within her role, gaining great trust and respect from all those that she visited. Over time Megan established herself as a leader who was able to help and nurture newer colleagues joining our team.”
Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
All the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze award, so nobody goes away empty-handed
He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.
“During the covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.
“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.
“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.
“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.
“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.
“They are Wales’s finest.”