A care organisation has been hailed for helping to spearhead an “economic renaissance” in Wrexham after opening the first virtual training centre of its kind in Wales.

Pendine Park has invested £250,000 in massively refurbishing the 8,000 sq ft building on Wrexham Technology Park where it will be training the social care professionals of the future.

Pride of place goes to the Pendine Academy of Social Care which includes the ground-breaking new virtual training centre featuring totally realistic recreations of a residents’ lounge, bedroom and dining area.

Pendine Park has eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon and employs around 800 staff.

Its success story was part of an economic renaissance in Wrexham according to Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure, who officially opened the complex.

He said: “Chetwood Financial have just opened across the way, Moneypenny have expanded to bigger premises and we have an incubation hub that’s going to open soon, creating 200 jobs and 100 new businesses.

“Meanwhile, the Development Bank of Wales will be located in Wrexham so Pendine Park’s investment in the town is very much welcomed.

“I know that Pendine Park has the commitment to grow in the sector in a way that ensures that quality is driven up.

“The First Minister identified social care as one of just a handful of priority themes for the whole of Government to focus on.

“Our contribution in the Economy Department will be to make care a national foundation priority sector so we can get to a point in the future where Wales is seen as the best place in which to receive care, the best place to grow old in a secure, dignified and safe way. Pendine Park’s contribution to that agenda is crucial.”

The other guest of honour was Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths, who is also the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs.

She said: “Pendine Park provides the gold standard for social care.

“Their commitment to high quality training is an example to the whole sector and their continued investment in the Pendine Academy of Social Care will help them raise the bar yet again.

“It’s fantastic to see so many staff giving so much time and effort on a daily basis to what can be a very difficult sector to be engaged in.

“The culture of all organisations is set at the top and I must pay tribute to Mario and Gill Kreft for their vision and dedication, allied to the use of the arts, which is helping to enrich lives across the generations.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE explained their Academy of Social Care was capable of providing first-class training for more than 2,000 people a year from Pendine Park and other care organisations.

He said: “These new premises represent an overall investment of £1.75 million in training over recent years.

“Our aim is to raise the bar yet again in delivering a high quality, award winning service, with a commitment to arts and the communities we serve at the heart of everything we do. We also have a pop-up pharmacy, pub, ice cream parlour and even a hair and beauty salon.

“Our training academy was set up in the mid-1990s and for the past 20 years we’ve been developing the concept of a teaching care home based on a similar principle to a teaching hospital.

“These new premises will enable us to put this idea into action, giving the care practioners we train the chance to experience a simulated care home environment in a truly hands-on way. We believe this innovation is a sector first for Wales.

“Around 50 staff will be based at the new premises which will enable us to provide a combination of practical and online training and assessment.

“We’re already looking for new assessors and trainers and as our operations get into full swing there will be a number of career opportunities.

“There are very few training centres of this kind anywhere. It is pretty much unique in Wales, especially given its scale, and we are also right up there in terms of best practice in the whole of the UK.

“We are a care organisation that provides learning and development for its staff in an innovative way and what we’re doing here perfectly underlines that.”