Specialism: The service supports adults with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Learning Difficulties, Mental Health, or ABI, substance misuse issues or with a history of
Katie Owen, who lives in Drefach Felindre, has won ‘Bronze’ at the prestigious Wales Care Awards, known as the social care Oscars.
She was nominated in the category for Excellence in Learning Disabilities & Mental Health Services, sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care (Silver) & All Care South Wales.
Katie was just 11 months into her new job with Regard, when she was asked to set up a brand-new supported living facility, Caeronnen, in Llangrannog.
Not one to turn down a challenge, the Lampeter-born care professional took on the mammoth task and two years on, Katie and her team have seen dramatic improvements in the lives of Caeronnen’s long-term tenants, who have a range of learning disabilities and mental health needs.
An avid gym goer and weight lifter, Katie has even brought in her love of fitness in to help her charges, including judo sessions and for one resident, a boxing bag in the garage.
“One of our tenants suffers a lot from anxiety and negative thoughts and so he wants to do more boxing to help get that out,” said Katie. “Exercise is about discipline and keeping active and can also be a distraction, so it’s a great calmer for our service users.”
Katie, who managed to complete her Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care while setting up the six-bed facility, said the improved quality of life for Caeronnen’s tenants had made it all worthwhile.
“I have a massive sense of achievement to see how our tenants have progressed. I want to make sure all our service users have the best possible life that they can have – that is our responsibility,” she said.
She attended the glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall on October 19, which was an extra special event, as it also marked the Wales Care Awards’ 15th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of organisers, Care Forum Wales.
Katie was put forward for the award by her manager, Julie Davies, who said that she deserved to be recognised for the improvements she has made in the lives of the people she supports.
“During her time as Service Manager, Katie has facilitated the admission of five individuals with very complex needs,” Julie said. “She has worked tirelessly to ensure their lives have been greatly enhanced.”
Not only has Katie now been put forward for a Wales Care Award, due to her managerial skills, she has also been asked to manage a second eight-bed residential home, Garthowen, nearby.
“When I was asked if I wanted to take on the job of setting up Caeronnen, I felt very much up for the challenge although I was a little apprehensive at first,” said Katie. “But the support I had was amazing and to look back now, and with the opportunity to also manage Garthowen, it is crazy to think just how much I have achieved in the last two years.”
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.”