A nurse is celebrating with her beloved canine companion after discovering she has been shortlisted for a top care gong.
Sharon Ainsley has worked in nursing since the 1970s and is currently a registered general nurse at Cwrt Enfys in Ystradgynlais, in the Swansea Valley.
She remains passionate about helping residents and their families and is respected by colleagues for her dignified approach to end of life care.
Sharon has now been recognised for her good work by earning a coveted place on the shortlist in this year’s Wales Care Awards, led by Care Forum Wales.
But she isn’t the only member of her household who is making a big impression at the home, as she is regularly accompanied by her dog Bebe, also known as Blodwyn.
The four-year-old miniature dachshund acts as a therapy dog, regularly helping to brighten up the lives of residents.
“If I could I would like to take my dog with me to the Wales Care Awards ceremony,” said Sharon, 62.
“Bebe’s a regular at the home. She loves it there.
“When she’s at the home she will enjoy a nap in the lounge and the residents love having her there.
“I can’t leave her at my house for 12 hours while I’m in work, so it makes sense for her to come to the home and be with the residents.”
Sharon’s lengthy career working in care has included spending 20 years working at the Prince Philip Hospital in her home town of Llanelli.
“When I started in nursing more than 40 years ago I never imagined I would still be in it now,” said Sharon, who is not yet planning to retire.
“But I still find it to be a rewarding role and I’m very happy. I don’t think care itself has changed in my career, it is more that certain things have changed such as technology.”
While working for the past three years at Cwrt Enfys, which is part of the SilverCrest Group, Sharon has made a big impression in providing end of life care. She has received praise from colleagues for her compassionate and caring nature, as well as her desire to make the experience as positive for residents and their families as possible.
Sharon – who saw both her parents, Kenneth and Marion, receive palliative care – identified the need for a family consulting room at the home and it has now become a reality after an office area was converted.
It means families now have a warm and lovely space, during what can be a very difficult and sad time. Sharon insisted on paying for items including paint and soft furnishings for the room.
“The relatives of residents are very important and the consulting room is for them,” said Sharon.
“I do not want them to feel like they are waiting in a hospital corridor, of it being cold and clinical. The room is family-orientated and I just want to help the relatives.
“It’s a lovely home to work at. All the staff are very happy and the residents get to enjoy entertainment and spend time with their families.
“In a home you can build a closer relationship with residents than you can with patients if working in a hospital.”
Sharon’s vast experience means she regularly offers advice to younger members of staff and conducts teaching sessions with them.
She continues to look at potential progress that can be made, with the Six Steps to Success programme being trialed at the home in a bid to further improve end of life care.
Sharon’s efforts have led to her being nominated by home management in the Wales Care Awards for the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award category, sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.
She has now made the final shortlist and will attend the glitzy ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 18.
The awards ceremony will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Sharon. “I feel very privileged to be shortlisted.
“But it’s all a team effort. It’s not just about me.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.
“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”