A district nurse turned social care manager described by her colleagues as an “oracle” of knowledge is in the running for a national award after helping to develop a pioneering training programme.
Gill Hughes, from Mold, who has worked in the care sector for more than 40 years, has won a well-earned place in the final of this year’s Wales Care Awards, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
The awards are organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales, which toasts 25 years’ of service this year, and acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.
Gill, who was appointed Responsible Individual with the Pendine Park care organisation, managing a team of registered managers and overseeing eight residential and nursing care homes within Wrexham and Caernarfon, is in the running for the coveted Leadership and Management in Residential Care gong.
The former NHS Nursing Homes Inspector will now attend a glittering awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 19 where the winners will be announced.
“I feel very privileged to be in the final given the number of people put forward for these awards,” said Gill, who has two children and four grandchildren.
“I’m coming to the end of my career now and I don’t think there’s anything in my career I would’ve changed. It really is my life and is very important to me.
“We’re in a privileged position of looking after so many vulnerable adults who are totally dependent on other people. You have to create an environment where people feel safe.”
Gill, whose grandchildren range in age from 13 to one, started her career as a cadet nurse at Clatterbridge Hospital on Wirral where she completed training before her husband’s job as a policeman took the couple to North Wales.
There, Gill became a district nurse and later the North Wales Continence Advisor before moving to the health board and then the newly created Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), now Care Inspectorate Wales, where she headed up a team of inspectors and was respected for her vast knowledge and fair but firm approach.
Since joining Pendine Park Care Homes Ltd, Gill has been instrumental in the delivery of a new training programme and a new care and support plan.
“The training evolved because of a shortage of nurses,” she said.
“We introduced a Clinical Care Practitioners training programme consisting of three modules which consist of theory and competency based assessments. Individuals are nominated by their manager because they have certain skills. They would then undergo intensive training and actually work alongside nurses, relieving them of tasks such as routine care medication.
“We’ve had 14 care practitioners who’ve successfully completed the training which has been a lifesaver for us across the group to fill the gap created externally by the lack of nurse recruitment which is quite astronomic in the NHS.”
Gill says she gets deep satisfaction ensuring not only her residents are well-cared for but that staff have an opportunity to flourish.
“They are my extended family,” she said.
“Most of the 800 staff know me by name as do many residents and relatives as I am visible and accessible.
“The culture of openness and transparency is extremely important to me.”
Nominating Gill for her award, Michele May, a self-employed consultant who works closely with Pendine Park, said: “When I said to others that I was nominating Gill, their support was overwhelming, everyone wanted to contribute to the submission, which I thought spoke volumes.
“Gill is an exceptional leader and manager whose focus is on motivating, guiding and supporting everyone she works with to do the best they can do to enhance service quality and wellbeing.
“Her team of managers talk about her knowledge as being immense (they call her ‘an oracle’) and about the fact that because she has worked in so many roles she can see things from all angles and levels.”
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.”