A carer from Denbigh who was hailed for saving the life of a person she supports is in the running for a top award.
Sharon Aspey has helped to transform the lives of a married couple who had become institutionalised after more than 10 years in hospital.
Now her efforts have been recognised by her nomination for one of this year’s Welsh Care Awards.
The awards, billed as the social care Oscars, are organised by Care Forum Wales to reward excellence in the care sector.
The prize giving will take place at a glittering ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff, on November 6, and Sharon, 44, has been shortlisted in the category for Supported Living, which is sponsored by Smartcare.
Sharon has worked in the care sector for many years, as have several members of her family, and after 10 years working in the field of mental health care transferred to working with adults living in supported tenancies in 2011.
She is employed by the national support provider Embrace Ltd, in their Denbigh services and in November, 2014, she was promoted to Senior Support Worker.
Her role is to support a married couple who decided they wanted to move out of the psychiatric rehabilitation unit where they had been living for many years. This was made all the more difficult as previous attempts to support them back into their local community had failed.
With the help of Sharon and her colleagues, however, the couple have become active members of the community in the Denbigh area and are re-engaging the skills they have not used for many years.
Her achievements in managing the transition and subsequently supporting the couple were what prompted Embrace’s North West regional manager Ryan Brummit to nominate her for the award.
Ryan says: “Sharon has faced many challenges because of the couple’s mental health difficulties but thanks to the persistence and care and support of her and her team, the couple are now settled in their new home and there are plans to reduce the original amount of support provided.”
In January, Sharon’s swift but calm response prevented a tragedy when one of the couple called her upstairs to indicate that they could not wake their spouse.
They showed no sign of life and whilst trying to offer reassurance, Sharon administered first aid and managed to release a blockage in the airway that was causing the problem.
“Sharon’s efforts were commended by the emergency services who confirmed that she had probably saved a life,” said Ryan.
Sharon, whose daughter Kirsty is also a Support Worker with Embrace, said she was flattered and embarrassed to have been shortlisted for doing a job which she so enjoyed.
“It is so rewarding to see the progress that the couple are making,” she said. “They may seem like little steps to most people but to them they are massive – like meeting me at the local supermarket instead of me having to take them there myself.
“There have been some tough times but I love the work and look forward to it when I get up in the morning,” she commented.
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 and are seen as the Oscars of social care.
“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.”