A dedicated community care worker with a heart of gold is in the running for a social care Oscar.
Liz Vickers, 58, turned to domiciliary care work after working as a night domestic at Chepstow hospital, where she realised the highlight of her job was the time she spent chatting to the patients.
Her natural ability to care and put patients at ease eventually led her to become a home care worker, where she has been making a difference to the lives of her elderly clients and their families for two decades.
And a work break 10 years ago, when she took a year out to care for her own mother Gladys before she passed away aged 91, has reinforced Liz’s commitment to supporting people at home.
“Caring for my mother has given me a personal insight into caring from the other side and the family’s view, Liz explained. “It also reinforced to me just how important it is to provide the best end of life home care as more people want to have their last weeks in their own home.”
Liz, who lives in Chepstow, but originally hails from Barry, has now been nominated in this year’s Wales Care Awards, which aims to reward outstanding work in social care.
She has been nominated in the Award category for Outstanding Service, sponsored by the Silvercrest Group and will attend the glittering ceremony at the City Hall in Cardiff with her husband Alan on 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.
The mother-of-two, who has worked for Chepstow-based Lougher Home Care for the past two years, said she takes great pride in being able to put something back into her hometown.
“Being a home carer in Chepstow is such a nice job as you meet your own community on a daily basis. It’s where I live and work and I get to know so many lovely people.
“Person-centred care is what we strive for and getting to know our clients is important – it can be done by being observant and just talking as you work. Families know the person best but not everyone has close families so that can be a bit of a challenge, but it can also be the most rewarding.”
One of the best parts of the job, says Liz, is just taking the time to chat to her clients, and she uses her passion for the outdoors as one of the ways to break the ice. A regular walker in the Forest of Dean, she often brings her experiences of nature into her visits.
“A good way to engage with my clients is to tell them the changes I have seen out in the forest and to share with them my love of being outdoors,” Liz said. “And it is a lovely way to simply share and talk.
“One elderly client had run out of bird seed, so I brought some of my own, and we just chatted about the birds. Another time I was telling a client who had grown up in a farming family about a cuckoo recording I had made. I brought it in for her to listen to, and she was so delighted as it took her back to her days on the farm. I find my job so rewarding and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
The dedicated care worker was put forward for the Wales Care Awards by her supervisor, Martine Metcalf, who said Liz’s gentle, knowledgeable approach made her popular with both her colleagues and clients.
“She demonstrates a kind and heartfelt attitude to end of life care and cares deeply about the people she cares for, explained Martine. “For us at Lougher Home Care, Liz is a fine example of what a modern Social Care practitioner should be.”
Liz said her nomination for a Wales Care Award had come as a total surprise.
“I was really shocked to be chosen as I’m just an ordinary carer who works with an amazing team,” she said. “But I am so chuffed and hope it raises the profile of caring and carers.”
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.”