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Inspiring care leader is honoured at prestigious awards ceremony

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A positive behavioural support manager who puts the needs of others at the “heart of everything she does” has seen her caring efforts pay off.

Shelley Swain works for Fieldbay, which is part of the Envivo Group, in Swansea helping to care for people with complex mental health and learning disability needs who require a high level of care, support and rehabilitation.

The 30-year-old is so passionate about her role that she “lights up” when she talks about it and found herself in the running for a national award.

She scooped bronze at the 2022 Wales Care Awards, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare.

Hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads, the awards, held in Cardiff are run in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.

With a background in psychology and training in positive behavioural support and analysis, Shelley is always “placing the needs of the individual at the heart of what she does.”

Shelley, who lives in Port Talbot and has worked for Fieldbay for two-and-a-half years, was shortlisted for the Leading Practice in Learning Disability and Mental Health Services Award, with the category being sponsored by Amaya Care.

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Shelley has worked in the care sector for five years and now manages a team of six staff across all of the Fieldbay settings in South and West Wales.

Colleagues described her as a role model and said in a relatively short space of time, she has changed the ethos and turned the positive behavioural support service into a flagship service through high quality training and support.

They said: “Passionate is a much-overused word but Shelley really is passionate about positive behavioural support.

“She is always looking for ways to improve the service and she lights up when she is talking about it.

“She is also modest (possibly too much so, she really does deserve some personal recognition). She always attributes positive feedback to the team which reflects her democratic leadership style.”

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Shelley’s role includes leading the team and developing the service, but she also conducts face to face work with people the organisation supports.

She leads from the front and is described as a respectful professional who brings about change through relationship building.

Shelley’s notable achievements include her work in developing learning, so colleagues had a deeper understanding of Huntington’s Disease and Fieldbay is a recognised member of the Huntington’s Association.

Shelley, who lives with her partner said: “Being nominated was really nice and unexpected. It made me feel really valued.

“I’m not used to accepting praise or talking about myself but I’m really overwhelmed and really grateful for my team as I couldn’t do it without them, it really is a team effort.”

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Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.

He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after the rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.

“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to  have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.

“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.

“There are only winners here so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

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

“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.

“We take our hats off to them.”

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