Devoted couple with severely disabled foster son among Swansea care winners
A Swansea couple who have devoted their lives to caring for their severely disabled foster son who was not expected to live past his 16th birthday have scooped a top national care award.
Elaine Bastin, 75, and her husband of 55 years Len, 78, spoke of their ‘total surprise’ at being announced winners at the prestigious 2018 Wales Care Awards held at Cardiff’s City Hall.
The couple – who live in Bishopston and are foster carers on the Shared Lives Scheme – won gold in the category for Promoting Fulfilled Lives, sponsored by Boots Healthcare, in recognition of the difference they have made over the last 28 years to their foster son G’s life.
Elaine said the awards evening was an unforgettable experience. She added:
“We didn’t expect to win but it was such a wonderful surprise, although it didn’t really sink in until the Monday morning! There were so many people at the awards and it was a fabulous way to recognise all those who are caring for others in the community.”
Retired driver Len and former hairdresser Elaine had already fostered over 40 children with learning and physical disabilities when they were introduced to the then 14-year-old G.
Warned that his complex health needs meant he wasn’t going to reach adulthood, the determined couple took their new foster son home and, thanks to their dedication, he remains a central part of their family, 28 years on.
Blind, with cerebral palsy and a rare form of epilepsy that was causing up to 60 seizures a week G, who is now 42, requires round the clock care and support. But with his love of classical music, hot chilli sauce, holidays and being by the sea, the couple continue to do whatever they can to provide a loving home for G.
“We hope we have given him a life he is happy with, and we will keep going until we drop. We couldn’t do it without each other,” said Elaine.
The three other Swansea winners at the awards were Matthew Phillips, who gained a silver in the Residential Care Practitioner category, and Stefan Jenkins and Maggie Rose, from, who both took bronze.
Matthew, 39, who grew up in Abergavenny but now lives in Swansea city centre, was inspired to help elderly people after nursing his grandmother.
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.”
Stefan, 23, who lives in Kidwelly, took bronze in the Learning Disability and Mental Health Services category for his work with young adults with autism in the Ty Hendy Care Home in Hendy, near Swansea.
The former pupil of St John Lloyd Catholic School in Llanelli was inspired by his nurse mum Rita Jenkins and has worked for the last four years with young adults with autism and Asperger’s syndrome at Ty Hendy.
Also taking bronze was mental health nurse Maggie Rose in the Independent Sector Nurse of the Year category.
Maggie, 57, who lives in the Mayals area of Swansea, has worked for Accomplish since 2008 and is a specialist provider for people with autism, mental health needs, learning disabilities, and acquired brain injuries.
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “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.”