Matthew raises the bar

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A care worker who was inspired to help elderly people after nursing his grandmother at home is celebrating national awards success.

Matthew Phillips, from Abergavenny, a team leader at April Court Care Home in Swansea, has scooped a prestigious silver award in the Residential Care Practitioner category, sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner, at the Wales Care Awards 2018.

Now in their 15th year, the national awards are organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales which is also toasting 25 years’ of service this year. Sponsored this year by Onyx Healthcare, they acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

Matthew, 39, who grew up in Abergavenny but now lives in Swansea city centre, collected his award at a glittering awards ceremony held at City Hall in Cardiff.

The former bar worker, who helps manage a 30-bed dementia unit in the 77-bed home owned by Care Inn Ltd, said: “I’m really proud to have got this far.

“I just enjoy my job. As long as the residents are happy I’m happy. Some days are difficult and not every day is plain-sailing but I couldn’t see myself doing any other job because it’s so rewarding.”

Matthew, who attended Caerleon Comprehensive School in Caerleon, took on a variety of bar jobs after leaving school.

It was while living with his grandparents, Jean and Hayden Richards, Matthew first discovered his passion for looking after people.

“My grandmother became quite ill and suffered with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and a curvature of the spine among other things. Although my grandfather was the main carer, when I wasn’t working I would help out.

“Sadly she died in 2000 and that’s when I decided care work was what I really wanted to do.”

Matthew moved to Swansea and held a number of care positions in nursing homes as well as completing agency work before being appointed to his current position in 2016.

“I think you have to be a special person to be a carer, not everyone can do this job,” he said.

“You need a lot of patience, empathy and understanding. You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and understand how they would feel.

“I treat my residents like I would treat my own family. Just because they’re in a care home it doesn’t mean they can’t go out and enjoy a meal in a pub. We want them to experience everything they would do if they were living at home.

“It’s a great achievement to be shortlisted for an award. I have a great team around me.”

Registered manager Lynne Cullen, who nominated Matthew for the award, described the team leader as an “invaluable” member of the team.

“There’s nothing that gives Matthew more pleasure than to do his job well and he gets the utmost from seeing the residents happy and well-cared for,” she added.

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have received a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”

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About Author

Founder of Abergavenny Now and History graduate from Bath Spa University. I was born in Abergavenny and have lived there for most of my life.

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