A dedicated cleaner who “always goes the extra mile” has been honoured for her work at a care organisation.
Isuara Antunes, who works at Pendine Park in Wrexham, was presented with the Semmelweis Award in recognition of her dedicated efforts in preventing infections by local AM Lesley Griffiths, who is also the Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.
The award is named after the 19th century Hungarian physician and scientist, Ignaz Semmelweiss, who was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures.
Isuara, who moved to Wrexham from her native Portugal three years ago, was thrilled and surprised to receive the trophy.
She said: “It’s amazing and I really enjoyed meeting Lesley Griffiths, it’s been an amazing honour.
“It’s important to think about what you are doing when carrying out housekeeping duties. IT’s not a case of just dusting or wiping things down with a damp cloth. It’s important to wear gloves and change them when you move to a different room.
“I have to think about our residents. Some of them are quite elderly and others have very difficult conditions. If they catch an infection it could be really serious so it’s my job to ensure everything is very clean and infections are prevented.”
She added: “My husband and daughter are really pleased and proud that my work has been recognised. I don’t think of it as just cleaning. It’s more than that. I also like to meet residents and talk to them.
“I’ve completed my Level 3 Health and Social Care NVQ. I really enjoy working at Pendine Park. It’s a great company to work for and I have many work colleagues who are also good friends.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE was delighted Isuara won the annual award.
He said: “Everyone at Pendine is very proud of Isuara who always goes the extra mile. She won the award after being nominated by team members for her work in infection control. As an organisation we take infection control very seriously.
“In truth, no matter what you do, it’s impossible to completely eradicate the risk of infection. Germs and viruses can be airborne and no matter who much you clean and disinfect you can never completely stop them.
“However, what you can do is dramatically reduce the risk by taking simple control measures and ensuring staff, of all levels, are aware of the risks and that they take action to prevent infection wherever possible.
“Training is at the heart of everything we do and our in-house training company 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.
“There are very few training centres of this kind anywhere and the Pendine Academy of Social Care is the culmination of two decades of developing the concept of a teaching care home.
“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 with our bespoke training and development programme.
“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.”
He added: “We named the award after Ignaz Semmelweiss as he discovered how infection could be drastically reduced by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics in 19th Century hospitals.
“He realised baby mortality was vastly reduced if medical staff disinfected their hands although many surgeons at first laughed at his suggestion. It eventually became standard practice and many lives were saved as a result.”
Lesley Griffiths AM said: “I was only too pleased to present Isuara Antunes with this amazing award.
“There is no doubt hygiene and infection control is a huge issue in the care sector and it’s wonderful to see for myself the measures that Pendine Park Care Organisation goes to in ensuring best practice.
“It’s great to see Pendine Park going above and beyond what is required in ensuring the potential for infection in all their care homes is reduced as much as possible.”