Caring Nicola wins social care Oscar

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A WOMAN respected for her efforts in helping people as they come to the end of their lives has collected a prestigious care award.

Nicola Williams had never worked in the care industry until five years ago, when she joined Pineshield Health and Social Care Services, based in Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Since then she has made such an impression that she has now been presented with a bronze award in the coveted Wales Care Awards, known as the social care Oscars, at a ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff.

The award recognises the impact the mother-of-four has made, progressing to the position of field care supervisor and leading Pineshield’s palliative team.

In this role she has earned praise from colleagues for the sensitive way she approaches situations, making sure people are treated with as much dignity as possible in their final days.

“It is important that people are comfortable right at the end of their life,” said Nicola, of Cyncoed, Cardiff.

“We go to people’s homes and it matters to me that people can stay at home rather than having to go into hospital. People are comfortable being in their home.

“It is difficult to see the end of someone’s life, but you just have to do the right thing.”

Her approach has not gone unnoticed within the industry, as she was shortlisted in the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award in this year’s Wales Care Awards, run by Care Forum Wales.

At the ceremony it was announced by Cheryl Wanklyn, operations director for award sponsor Hallmark Care Homes, that Nicola was to receive the bronze award.

Victoria Lloyd, chief executive of Age Cymru, presented Nicola with her accolade.

The event was hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

The award recognises the work Nicola performs, including going out of her way to ensure patients are treated with a strong level of dignity.

Nicola, 46, has also been praised for making sure family members are present at the end of someone’s life.

She has acted on instinct and called for relatives to attend as soon as possible, even disagreeing with the judgement of district nurses about a patient’s condition.

“There was one occasion when I felt it was vital that the family got there immediately,” she recalled.

“The person died a very short time later and the relatives made it just in time. If I hadn’t made that decision then they would not have been present.”

The impact Nicola has made in palliative care is particularly impressive as her background is not in the industry.

She previously worked at Butlin’s in Minehead and then focused on bringing up her children, before she successfully applied for the role of care worker with Pineshield in 2014.

Since then she has made a significant impact in terms of both career progression and the standard of care she provides.

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight, so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights and in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”