Gaynor Penhorwood spent most of her early life caring for elderly people, whether it was friends, neighbours or family. Back in the early 90's Gaynor started helping out a care home in Cross hands where she was asked to make curtains. It was not long before she was practically running the place, working incredibly long hours for very little pay.
Martin Joyce (Gaynor son) was working in Comet at the time, but had always dreamt of being an architect or builder. His fascination with construction was well known to his friend, as the first thing he did when entering large buildings was to look up at the ceiling and work out how it all stayed up. Not having any construction qualifications, the first project he embarked upon was his own loft conversion back in 1993, passing all planning and building requirements thanks to diligent research and gratefully.
Frustrated in Comet and concerned about the amount of hours his mother was working just to make end meet, in February 1996 he approached his Mother and step father Clive, with the idea of opening a small care home of their own. Without hesitation everyone agreed, although, at the time they did not realise what they were letting them-selves in for.
Martin put together a Business Plan and having agreed on the name, “Park View Care Home” began it's first steps, they started looking for a suitable property in Neath overlooking the Neath Gardens. All the major bank were approached, but one by one, every single one of them said NO. These were the days before banks started giving mortgages to everyone.
Not being discouraged, and watching has mother work longer and longer hours Martin had the idea for them to purchase each others houses at their full market value. This would free up enough collateral for a deposit on a third house, and having looked at every other option, this was the only way forward. Purchasing a house is deemed as being one of the most stressful times in your life, Martin, Clive and Gaynor were in effect purchasing three.
Gaynor, as a little girl growing up in Neath, had always loved walking past what is now Park View Care Home. It had been up for sale for some time, but was not in a good state of repair, with a crack going down one entire side wall. Martin reluctantly went to view the building with Gaynor and their friends Michael & Tina in May of 1996.
When they arrived the current owner explained that she herself was currently running the building as a small care home, and coincidentally, using the name “Park View”. Walking round the building and meeting the 3 residents that already lived there, there was an immediate sense of belonging, so despite all of its faults and the fact it was way out of their price range, they knew they would do almost anything in order to get it.
In September 1996 Martin, Michael, Clive and Gaynor drove to Cardiff where Martin & Gaynor signed for a mortgage which was at 13.9% and required a 30% deposit. Martin & Gaynor were now crippled in debt and had no idea what lay ahead of them but they got back that night and made their first tea for the current residents, Rose Groves, Marion Eton and Beryl Richards. From that point onwards, whenever things seemed too much, looking at the smile on their residents faces, they knew they had done the right thing.
The house was old, weak and failing, and shortly after moving in they suffered a major rain storm where the rain started pouring in from the top floor all the way down to the basement, damaging the stair lift in the process, which they relied heavily upon. With no money and having already borrowed thousands from family and friends, the only thing left to do was to take out the maximum on all their credit cards.
Despite everything, the sense of goodness they felt when their residents and families thanked them for the good care that they were giving, made them even more determined to succeed even if the building was falling down around them. It was then the decision was made that to be able to make the business continue they were going to have to increase the number of residents, so in 1997 Martin put his own plans together and submitted them to Planning and Building control.
Having no architectural drawing experience or qualifications in the field, Martin learnt the hard way, with rejection after rejection to his ambitious plans, but it soon became clear to the Building Control and the Planning Department that this 23 year old was not going to go away. After spending hours in meetings with building and planning officers, Martin, with the much appreciated support of Neath Port Talbot Council got his first set of plans approved.
Sadly it was not all good news, as at this time Martin was diagnosed with a hereditary bone disease - Ankylosing Spondylitis. At the Age of 23 this came as a massive blow psychologically and physically, as the pain would cripple him so badly he was unable to even get in and out of his car. Despite this, the building work commenced, and while still working 48 hours a week in Comet, Martin would leave work, put on his building clothes and then work till there was no more light, building the first extension himself, which was a bathroom to the side of the homes.
A year after that, and after more work, the homes was registered for 8 residents, but there was to be a clause! The Inspectorate at the time insisted that an 8 person passenger lift be installed! Whilst the numbers had increased, night staff had to be taken on and the staffing dramatically increased thought the day to cope with the extra residents, and this was when Joanne Jefford (now our Manager) first started with Park View. Gaynor, who also lived in the home also had to be available 24/7 and there was simply no money to fund the £30,000 passenger lift that was being insisting on.
The only way to fund it was to build another extension and increase the number of residents to cover the cost, a year later this was completed and Park View was registered for 11 people.
In 2002 the CSSIW was formed bringing with it a massive amount of new regulations that Care Homes had to abide by, Care Homes across the country, already strapped for cash were forced to spend thousands to meet the new requirement. Facing yet another financial crisis, fate was there to lend a helping hand when No 92 Gnoll Park Road was put up for sale. It was purchased, enabling them to care for another 8 residents, bringing the total now up to 19 residents.
It 2005 Social Services, who set the fees for care homes in Neath Port Talbot, put together what would become know as a “Tool Kit” to establish what would be a fair price for care in the area, unfortunately for Park View, this was based on a 30 bed care home. Park View Care Home had similar overheads and staffing levels as a 30 bed care home but only had the income of a 20 bed care home. This was clearly not sustainable, so in 2006 Martin embarked on his biggest project yet.
This was to completely alter the way the homes looked and run. It was also the hardest project to get approved, and at every stage it seemed that the project would remain a paperwork document forever. However after a whole year of planning, in 2007 the project was finally approved ... and then the banks went bankrupt! Undeterred by this the project started a month later. Fortunately, because of their excellent reputation during all previous works, the banking crisis did not have any negative effect on the massive finances required for such a complicated, ambitious project, and it went ahead fully sanctioned by their bank.
The project included a 9 bed extension to the rear connected via a bridge link, a library, more toilets & bathrooms, an Entertainment Lounge, the complete removal of the existing rear roof and an entire floor added on top with it's own naturally lit Sun Lounge. This was a massive project, and to make it more complicated, the home had to remain completely operational during the construction stage, but in a testament to the great team there, during the entire 20 month period not one complaint was made by residents or staff and everyone pulled together like one big happy family, in complete awe of what was going on around them.
One of the reasons Park View has the glowing reputation it has is because there has never been a compromise on the quality or service, and the fact that Gaynor and Martin go way beyond what regulations require to provide a happy home.
This can been seen in what is now a completely custom, made for purpose building, which includes:
In February 2010 Martin won an award for the management and build of Park View Care Home, where it was described as “a care home for others to follow”, and despite all the massive changes to Park View Care Home over this time, and with one financial crisis after another, the quality of food & service, and the level of care given, has never been compromised once.
The future of Park View Care Home has now been guaranteed. It has been built on the love that Martin and Gaynor both get from knowing that the residents within their home receive the very best of everything, the pride they have in doing a job right and from knowing the amount of happiness that is within Park View Care Homes walls.