Cleo wins the Jairo Medina Award 2021
By SweetTree CEO Nicki Bones (pictured)
Every year at SweetTree we remember our wonderful support worker Jairo Medina who tragically died in August 2016. Jairo was a live-in support worker who had provided dedicated and excellent care to our client Joe Behrens for several years. Despite Joe having Dementia, when Jairo died, he wanted to set up a fund and Awards in his name at SweetTree and our annual Jairo Medina Awards was born. Joe was keen to ensure that Jairo was always remembered, and his passionate care an inspiration to all.
The Awards see nominations requested from our clients, families, team, and professionals working with us and it is always a privilege to read the wonderful nominations and to welcome Joe’s son and daughter in law to the annual presentations to the final winners.
This year we held our SweetTree Party and celebrations at SweetTree Fields Farm, our care farm in Mill Hill that supports some of our clients with horticultural therapy and learning opportunities in animal husbandry and growing skills. Last year’s Jairo Medina Awards had to be presented online due to Covid 19 restrictions and so it was a lovely to be able to hold our party safely outdoors this year, with the music and dancing took us well into the evening and old friends catching up in person.
Presenting the awards this year was such good fun! Although we always try to make sure our winners are attending the party without telling them they have won, Cleo Kabanda arrived a little late! We were desperately trying to get hold of her before we started the proceedings but to no avail! Halfway through she called us back unsure of all the commotion she could hear in the background. With lookouts waiting for her to come down the drive we were able to give her a massive surprise over the PA system as she strolled into the farm with cheers and clapping from Team SweetTree.
The final nominals are voted for by our Advisory Board and Joes Behrens son and daughter in law Ron and Helen and Cleo’s nomination stood out to everyone! The nomination as you can see was going to be a winner!
‘Cleo is an outstanding member of your team who looked after my aunt for about 15 months. She entered our lives at the beginning of Covid, such a difficult stressful time, and she almost instantly formed a relationship with my aunt when no one else was able to do this. I knew straight away that Cleo was not only an excellent member of your staff but also an incredibly special person. She overflowed with care and kindness – and she had all those other wonderful qualities of professionalism and reliability and flexibility and being proactive and having excellent communication skills and extensive experience, and always going above and beyond – but every single thing she did was done with unconditional care and kindness for my aunt, and support and reassurance for me. She became like a member of our family as during lockdowns I was unable to see my aunt for many months, but the reassurance of knowing Cleo was looking after everything was immeasurable. Cleo looked after my aunt through physical illness, worsening dementia, and challenging behaviour – I cannot thank her enough. She enabled my aunt to stay in her own home for a lot longer than would have been the case without her and that is something I will never forget. She built a relationship with my aunt which must have given her such deep inward security as her illness worsened and life became more challenging, and as my aunt’s illness caused her to be hostile and aggressive and uncooperative with everyone else Cleo still was able to achieve an excellent level of care and do everything that needed doing each day.’
Our runner up for 2021 was Princess Botha who was nominated by several of the SweetTree Managers who said:
‘I worked as a manager for 15 years and Princess is ideal staff member!
No job to hard, extremely polite, things done before you ask to be done, loved and respected by all clients, full of new ideas , able to work independently , wellbeing of the clients and fellow staff is her priority , willing to help , willing to jump in when emergency occurs. I can write pages about Princess!’
Our 3rd finalists Sibel Osman also received a beautiful nomination from a client’s family member which said:
‘Sibel has transformed my father’s life and helped him in his acceptance of 24 live-in care. Her careful monitoring of his fluid intake and ensuring that he has an interesting and balanced diet has resulted in him stopping all laxatives. He wakes each morning looking forward to the new day. His mood and demeanour have improved so much since she has cared for him and he has regained his sense of humour and fun. He is cheerful and content. She stimulates his interest by talking about the past and finding new topics of interest on the tv and yet, at the same time, can tell when he just needs some quiet time to himself. She has enabled him to live a full and happy life despite the physical constraints he now faces. My sisters and I sleep well at night knowing that he is so lovingly and well cared for.’
Being able to celebrate in person again this year felt so good! The band played, the drinks flowed, and the BBQ was a big hit. Lots of activities for children and adults made it a wonderful way to celebrate our outstanding SweetTree Team in person.