The founder of a specialist neurological care provider in Milton Keynes has won the top award at a ceremony recognising excellence in the sector.
Jan Flawn, a nurse who set up PJ Care in 2000, was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Social Care prize at the Great British Care Awards in London at the weekend.
Another PJ Care worker, Anna Lesniak, also picked up a prestigious prize, winning the Frontline Leader award.
The pair received their trophies at a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel hosted by singer and former Loose Women presenter Jane McDonald on Saturday.
The judges praised Jan’s ‘compassion and commitment’ in developing the two neurological care centres in Milton Keynes – Mallard House and Bluebirds – and Eagle Wood in Peterborough. The centres provide care and rehabilitation for people with a range of conditions including young onset dementia, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke.
Jan opened her first centre in 2001 after seeing young dementia sufferers being seriously let down by having to live in inappropriate care homes for the elderly.
Jan said: “I’m a passionate clinician, and I felt younger people deserved a better quality to the end of their life and needed more dignity and respect. That was what drove me.”
In response, Jan built a specialist neurological care centre in Milton Keynes for adults aged 18 to 65. Jan’s vision was to provide an environment that enabled individuals to live comfortably and safely, allowing them a full life with the appropriate neurological care and treatment.
She was anxious to ensure everyone involved – the individual, as well as their family and loved ones – were all properly supported.
The judges added: “Jan has instilled her values of care, compassion and commitment in the people she works with.
“Highly respected among her peers and colleagues, Jan has mentored countless nurses and medical specialists, many of whom are now in senior positions and successful in their own career path in the specialist neurological sector.”
Frontline Leader award-winner Anna Lesniak has worked for PJ Care for eight years.
She came to the UK from Poland, and initially started out working for the company in 2006 as a carer while she waited for her nursing registration to come through.
She was soon promoted to work as a nurses’ team leader, clinical manager, and then as a unit manager in Milton Keynes. More recently Anna has progressed to become the company’s practice development lead.
The judges recognised her achievements in that time saying she’d ‘had a huge impact on the service which is evidenced by the positive feedback from the residents and their families as well as staff and external stakeholders’.
Anna has recently been invited to contribute to a national working party leading on service standards and good practice guidelines for progressive neurological conditions. She is an expert in the field of nursing care for people with Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder which affects muscle co-ordination.
The judges also said: “Anna is an excellent clinical leader who is respected by all and who succeeds in empowering and valuing every member of the team. She is also an effective and clear communicator.”
Johann van Zyl, chief executive officer at PJ Care, said: “We are unbelievably proud of Jan and Anna. They both epitomise the care and commitment which is at the heart of everything we do at PJ Care.
“Jan’s achievements speak for themselves. She has been the heart and soul of PJ Care since she founded the company back in 2000.
“She is so deserving of this award for the contribution she has made to social care in this country.
“And Anna demonstrates remarkable leadership in everything she does. She is so highly thought of and respected by all her colleagues as well as by residents and their families at our centres.
“It’s very special for them to have their work recognised at these prestigious national awards.”