The son of an 86-year-old care home resident has spoken of his massive relief after his mum was among the first in Wales to be given the Oxford-AstroZeneca vaccine to protect her against the deadly Coronavirus.
Mary Willis, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, was vaccinated this morning (Wednesday) along with 47 other residents of Crosfield House, in Rhayader, Powys, which was the first home in the county to receive the jab produced in Wrexham at the CP Pharmaceuticals factory.
Her son, Matthew, an NHS manager from Rhos y Garth, near Llanilar, said: “My mum went into Crosfield after a fall and the care home have been brilliant.
“She’s almost back to her old self and we’re just so relieved she’s been vaccinated.
“She’s been very keen to have the vaccine and is a firm believer in its benefits and hopefully it will provide some protection for everyone from this deadly virus.
“She is making a good recovery from her fall but because of lockdown restrictions she can’t be measured for a wheelchair or have tests on her hearing or eyesight but hopefully this vaccine will allow that to happen.
“It also means that we can maybe look forward now to her being able to come out for the day and hopefully next December we’ll all be able to sit round the table to a Christmas dinner.
“That’s down to the vaccine and I’m absolutely delighted that my mum has received it this week and I very much hope and believe it will allow us to get back to something like normal.
“It will be nice to plan ahead for the future and the vaccine is key to that – it gives us all something to look forward to.”
The vaccine was administered by a team of six nurses from Powys Teaching Health Board and the manager of Crosfield House, former paramedic Wayne Rees, said: “It’s been a very difficult time for everyone on a rollercoaster road but this is the glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
“The team from Powys Health Board were here at 8.30am to set up and the first vaccine was delivered at about 9.30am and working in pairs they have vaccinated 48 of the residents this morning.
“Some of the residents are not suitable for vaccination because of their condition but we have been very fortunate here and have stayed free of the virus.
“Our staff here have been fantastic because it isn’t easy coming in to work every day to do a 12-hour shift in full PPE. It’s very pressurised.
“We’ve all got lives outside work, but they have been abiding by the rules and that’s what is helping get us through this difficult time.”
Care home residents are especially vulnerable to the virus because of their age and infirmity.
Care workers have also been among those most at risk but Crosfield House’s 98 staff received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December and the home was chosen to receive the Oxford vaccine as one of Wales’s Pathfinder homes.
They were also one of only eight homes in Wales involved in the Lateral Flow Testing programme designed to identify symptom-free carriers of the virus.
The home has been able to convert the former library into a visiting room complete with floor to ceiling and wall to wall partition screen with apertures to allow special gloves to be used for contact between residents and visitors.
Wayne Rees added: “We’ve used the communal areas of the home for administering the vaccines to residents apart from those who can’t leave their rooms and there will be nurses there to monitor them for 15 minutes to ensure there are no ill effects.
“Powys Health Board and the local authority have been great during the pandemic and our staff were all vaccinated in early December.
“These last 12 months have been very challenging. It’s taught me a lot and it’s taught the staff a lot and I really can’t praise them highly enough. They’ve all really pulled together.”
Mary Wimbury, Chief Executive of Care Forum Wales, which represents nearly 500 independent social care providers, welcomed the roll-out of the vaccination to the sector.
She said: “Our care home residents and the people who look after them are right in the firing line especially with a new, rampant form of the virus on the loose.
“We’re in a race against time and it’s vital we protect these most vulnerable people and I welcome the fact that this vaccine roll-out is happening quickly because we are facing a health catastrophe.
“The pressure is on and many care homes throughout Wales are at crisis point so now we have the vaccine it is critical that we get it out to those who need it most.”
Expressions of interest sought for Carmarthen mart
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is looking for a business to operate its livestock market in Carmarthen.
The council intends to offer the lease of the mart at Nant Y Ci by open-market tender.
Businesses are being invited to get in touch with the council if they are interested in knowing more about the tender opportunity.
The Carmarthen mart is a traditional and prominent fixture in Carmarthenshire’s vibrant agricultural industry.
Occupying a purpose-built modern building, the mart has two auction rings with associated livestock pens for cattle, sheep and pigs. There are loading areas to the side and rear with lorry parking and wash down facilities, a reception and mart office, café area and kitchen facilities, a bar, and ten business units occupied by agricultural supply/service companies.
The council is looking for applicants that can demonstrate proposals for a progressive and forward-looking regional livestock market, operating regular livestock auctions and managing all ancillary functions including sub-letting of concessions, catering functions, and business units.
The council’s Rural Business Development Centre could also be included within the lease.
Cllr David Jenkins, the council’s Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting Carmarthenshire’s farming community and rural economy and recognise the important role the Carmarthen mart has to play in that.
“This is an exciting opportunity – as well as operating this busy mart, we hope to attract applicants that will also look at wider opportunities to create a viable and sustainable enterprise. We very much look forward to seeing the mart operating again.”
Further details are available on the council’s website – visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/business or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach
THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.
Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.
The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.
Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.
The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.
The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.
In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.
If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.
With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.
If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.
If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.
The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.
Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.
The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.
During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.
They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.
A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.
“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”
Have your say on Carmarthenshire County Council’s budget
PEOPLE are being encouraged to get involved in Carmarthenshire County Council’s annual budget setting process.
The council is inviting local residents, businesses, community and voluntary organisations to have their say on its draft budget so that councillors can consider public feedback before making a final decision in March.
The council has a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget every year, ensuring that income from sources such as Council Tax, revenue from paid-for services and grants is enough to cover its expenditure.
With Covid-19 having had a significant impact on services, this year councillors face the added pressure of funding extra costs incurred and ensuring future contingencies can be met.
Pressures are being particularly felt across social care services because of the pandemic, and across the environment department associated with school transport, flood and coastal defences, and enhanced resources to tackle cleansing and fly-tipping in targeted areas.
No new savings proposals are being put forward for consultation this year, however the council’s Executive Board has reiterated its commitment to delivering the three-year savings agreed in the 2020 budget.
Meeting earlier today (Monday, January 18, 2021), Executive Board members rejected a proposed 4.89 per cent Council Tax increase in favour of proposing a more modest 4.48 per cent increase in recognition of the pressures being faced by people because of the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked personal and financial havoc on our county, and the good people of Carmarthenshire have paid a huge price,” said Leader of the Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole. “Given the circumstances of Covid-19 and the way that people are currently affected, I propose reducing the proposed Council Tax increase to 4.48 per cent to give the people of Carmarthenshire the support that they so rightly deserve.”
The consultation has now opened allowing people to have their say on the proposed draft budget.
Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “It’s so important that we are able to take people’s views into consideration when setting our budget. Although we haven’t put specific proposals forward this year, we have to plan for areas of spending and saving. Hearing from people about what matters to them allows us to understand public opinion and as such we encourage everyone to share their views with us before our final decisions are made.”
People can share their views online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultation until 5pm on February 3, 2021.
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