A care worker renowned for “going the extra mile” was honoured at Wales’ top care awards.
Leighton Sanders won silver at a glittering Oscars-style awards night in Cardiff City Hall, hosted by BBC presenter Lucy Owen, and organised by Care Forum Wales, to acknowledge and reward excellence in the care sector.
He was recognised in the supported living or small group community living practitioner category at the 2014 Wales Care Awards
Leighton admits he was late coming into the care sector, caring for people with spinal injuries living in their homes.
It was a baptism of fire which failed to dampen his enthusiasm for caring and he joined Q Care Limited and now works in the domiciliary care sector as a support worker.
Leighton, 39, said: “I was in customer care services for most of my working life and it’s only the last few years I knew I wanted to change my career and decided the care sector was something I would really like to do.
“I worked in the job centre at Pontypridd on the Job Seekers allowance and I also worked for a recruitment agency. All office based.
“In 2006 I took a year out and went with a friend to Australia where we bought a car in Sydney and travelled up to Cairns, down to Uluru and then to Melbourne and back to Sydney.
“After that I spent a month travelling around New Zealand. Then I came back home to Mountain Ash and worked for a pharmaceutical company in customer care.”
After some on-line research, Leighton, who is single, found a company based in Seven Oaks, Kent who wanted someone to help care for spinal injury victims, staying with them and living in their own homes.
“I was thrown in the deep end because you were supposed to stay for two weeks and then hand over to another carer but the relief carer was sick and I ended up staying the month.
“I had a client in Kent and another in Devon and was travelling from South Wales. But I enjoyed it, it was an intense 12 month experience but it gave me an insight into the care sector.
“I loved care work but I knew I wanted something a bit different and that’s why I went into domiciliary care.”
In January 2012, Leighton joined Q Care. “My clients are my job. I care for mainly elderly people, you go into their homes and you have to build up a rapport and trust to make them comfortable.
“I help with personal care, from meal preparation to toileting. It can be very, very demanding, each call can be different, you don’t know what you will find.
“Sometimes a client might be ill and you have to assess the situation and call medical assistance or a relative. I suppose I have come into this role late in life but I really enjoy being a carer,” said Leighton, who also assists with training of new staff.
Q Care provides personal, domestic and health care in the home environment, along with social companionship, designed to provide flexible care to enable people to remain in their own homes.
His manager at Q Care Limited Aberdare, Sarah Williams said: “As a support worker, Leighton’s main role is to support and assist the individuals who require our services with everyday tasks and needs, enabling them to remain living at home safely and independently.
“Nothing is too much trouble for him and he often goes above and beyond for the individuals he supports and his colleagues.”
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said there were a record number of nominations and the standard was extremely high.
He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive 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.”