Swansea care home in the running for VQ Employer of the Year Award

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Hengoed Court owners Nicola and Tim Williams.

A Swansea care home, Hengoed Court, has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award in recognition of its support for vocational training.

Hengoed Court is one of three finalists in the running to become VQ Employer of the Year at the showpiece awards ceremony on June 4, VQ Day, at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw. VQ Day is a national celebration of people who have achieved success in vocational education in Wales.

The home has built its reputation on an ethos of promoting dignity, privacy, independence and respect, backed by a comprehensive staff training and development programme.

Opened in 1987, Hengoed Court has retained many of its original staff, demonstrating the support and opportunities provided by the management.

The home has worked with Gower College Swansea for the past seven years to provide and deliver a range of accredited qualifications for staff. The management has been committed to promoting and identifying development opportunities to upskill, motivate, empower and stimulate staff.

Key personnel are identified to undertake specialised tasks and create opportunities for staff to grow and develop within the company.

“Professional and personal development programmes are utilised for staff to enable them to follow a pathway of learning to meet company, customer and individual needs,” said Nicola Williams, who owns Hengoed Court with her husband, Tim.

“We proactively seek out innovative training, such as integrating customer service and dementia care into mainstream social care qualifications – effectively combining statutory requirements with best practice.”

The home’s approach to care and training has been recognised by other care providers and the local authority in Swansea, with visits to the business undertaken to share best practice.

By the end of this year, all catering staff will be trained to a Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level. All senior staff are developed to a QCF level 3 and the care staff workforce is well on its way to becoming 100 per cent QCF qualified.

The owners believe training has been a key factor in creating an open and transparent culture at the home where employees are motivated and happy and standards of work, expectations and performance are high and consistent.

The company is training its entire workforce in a social care framework, which meets the management’s ongoing commitment to strategic and operational objectives.

The other companies competing for the VQ Employer of the Year Award are The Village Bakery, Wrexham and domiciliary care provider Trusting Hands, Ebbw Vale.

The six VQ Learner of the Year finalists are Matthew Edwards, an apprentice butcher with S. A. Vaughan Family Butchers, Penyfford, near Chester who was nominated by Cambrian Training Company, Ashleigh Zeta Jones and chef Rhys Sinfield who were both nominated by Bridgend College, Ebbi Ferguson who was nominated by Coleg Sir Gâr, Llanelli, Corey Nixon nominated by Gower College Swansea and St Clears nursery owner Emma Thomas who was nominated by City and County of Swansea Lifelong Learning and Employment Training Service.

VQ Day supports the aspiration that vocational qualifications, which are not just for young people, should achieve parity of esteem alongside other educational routes.

Learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. VQ Day and the VQ Awards are co-ordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) with the support of the Welsh Government and part funded by the European Social Fund.

Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, wished the nine finalists success on June 4. “Vocational Qualifications are the gold standard in professional excellence and we must ensure they are recognised alongside academic qualifications for their value to learners and the Welsh economy.

“Wales has a real wealth of talented and committed people who have excelled in their vocational studies and VQ Day is a chance for us to celebrate their achievements. A VQ award is more than just an award; it’s a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession.

“It’s also equally important that we recognise the role of employers in promoting vocational qualifications in the workplace. Their support and commitment will be vital if we are to achieve our ambition of creating a more highly-skilled Wales.”

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