Sasha Gatenby, a care worker at European Healthcare Group based in Deeside, and specialising in mental health and older people, took the Gold Medal at the Caring Competition at the WorldSkills UK Finals on Saturday evening. Sasha also works with older people in the community alongside her work for European Healthcare.
Pauline Coulthard, a home care worker for older people and people with learning disabilities took silver. Pauline, who works for Oaklea Trust in Kendal, was nominated by Kendal College. In a first for the Caring competition, two bronze medals were awarded: Hayley Edwards, a student in Health Studies at Middlesbrough College and Nikita Harron, a student in Health and Social Care from Southern Regional College, County Armagh.
WorldSkills UK is part of WorldSkills International, the world’s largest vocational skills competition. Over 100,000 visitors packed into the NEC in Birmingham to watch hundreds of competitors vie for WorldSkills medals in a wide range of categories, from mechatronics, visual merchandising and cabinet making to aromatherapy, culinary arts and stonemasonry.
The finalists in the Caring Competition, which aims to find the best adult social care workers in the country, had all scored highly in regional heats held earlier in the year. Sasha and Hayley took second and first place respectively at the Yorkshire and Humber heat in July. Pauline and Nikita took first and second place at the North West heat in May.
All the competitors had to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a series of rigorous tests and live activities, assessed by a panel of independent expert judges from across the country. The activities, which included dementia care, independence planning for a person with a learning disability and palliative care in a home setting, were devised to replicate situations which competitors would face in their everyday roles. This year also saw the inclusion of a vital signs and wound dressing task in a forward-thinking move to incorporate a clinical element into the competition.
Sasha said: “I feel overwhelmed, happy, sad, ecstatic. This has been a huge confidence thing for me and I couldn’t care less if the whole world saw how emotional I was and what it meant to me. It was my moment!”
Inspired by taking second place, Pauline said: “I feel elated and absolutely over the moon. Words can’t describe what a fabulous experience WorldSkills has been. I now have a determination to make this profession better; I’m going to make things better where I work.”
As the celebrations began, bronze medal winner, Hayley Edwards said: “I feel really proud of myself because I didn’t think I’d come anywhere being so young. I’ll take the friendships and experience from this competition and it’s been a great opportunity to learn new skills.”
For joint bronze medal winner Nikita Harron, the WorldSkills experience has likely changed her career path: “Everyone deserved to win! I’ve learned I can deal with more than I thought I could. I was sure of going into speech and language with learning disabilities, but now I think I want to follow a more medical career path in healthcare sciences.”
At the close of the event Jennifer Bernard, the Lead Judge, praised the Finalists and their exemplary care giving: “If every care worker had the same approach to care as these finalists, we would not have a problem in the sector. They’ve got the right attitude and they’re learning the skills. It’s those two things together – compassion with the skill base – that we need to see across the entire sector.”
Photo caption: The medal winners at the Finals of the 2013 WorldSkills UK Caring Competition. L – r: Hayley Edwards, Pauline Coulthard, Sasha Gatenby and Nikita Harron.