A senior carer from Bridgend who prides herself on building up a special rapport with the people she looks after during her regular night shifts has been shortlisted for a major award.
Linda Kinsey, 54, who has worked at the Hafod Care Association’s Picton Court home in Nottage, Porthcawl for the past decade, says she loves working at night because of the special relationships she’s able to create with residents.
She likes to chat intimately to them or share a laugh in the early hours if they are have trouble sleeping and one said of her, “I always feel safe when Linda is around.”
It is this dedicated approach to her caring role that has landed Linda, who lives in North Cornelly, a place in the final of major national competition, the 2017 Wales Care Awards, where she will be a finalist in the residential care category.
This is the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday November 17 and will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.
Born and raised in Cornelly, Linda faced the tragedy of her mother’s death when she was just eight years old and went to live for a while with her older sister in Coventry.
Returning to her hometown in the early 1980s her first jobs after leaving school at the age of 16 were in local cafes and factories and included breaks for the birth of her two daughters and a son, now aged from 27 to 35. She also has three grandsons and two granddaughters between the ages of 12 and five months.
Linda, who is single, first went into the caring profession in 1990 and recalled: “People used to say me I’d make a lovely carer, so I tried it and loved it straight away because it made me feel good about myself.
“I started as a care assistant at a home in Cornelly and stayed there seven years. I then worked at another home in Porthcawl for about a year and also had a short spell at Picton Court, under a previous owner.
“I went back there 10 years ago and six years later I was promoted to senior carer on nights.
“The home has a total of 76 beds, with 21 of these residential, 13 for people with dementia and the rest for nursing.
“I work nights all the time, which I really love because you have to do a bit of everything. During the day there are different staff for all the things you have to do but at night you have to be janitor, odd-jobman and security guard all rolled into one.
“I like it so much because it’s a more intimate sort of shift. At 3am, if someone can’t sleep, you can talk to them one-to-one in a different kind of way than you can during the day. Nights create a nice ambience and you can build up a rapport with people.”
This is borne out in her nomination for the Wales Care Awards, in which one resident says of Linda: “Following a fire at my home I had to spend a year at Picton Court. Linda is professional as well as being a friend. During the night I’d get fretful and she would spend time reassuring me. I always feel safe when Linda is around.”
Linda said: “I was astonished to be nominated for the award and it was marvellous hearing I’d then been shortlisted for it.
“However, I don’t see it as just for me but for everyone in the team at Picton Court and also the whole caring profession which can sometimes be criticised.
“I’m looking forward to the presentation evening in Cardiff which I’ll be going to with my daughter, Chloe Jenkins. I’m a little nervous but also very excited about it.”
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.”