FORMER shop worker Shauna Martin has scooped an award at the social care Oscars after change of career following the death of a close family friend.
Shauna, now a care assistant at Llys y Seren Residential Care Home in Port Talbot, won a silver in the Exceptional Newcomer category at the annual Wales Care Awards at a glittering ceremony in Cardiff’s City Hall.
The awards are organised by Care Forum Wales, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
The award category was sponsored by Coleg Cambria and the presentation was made by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Cllr Dianne Rees.
The death of a close family friend made Shauna determined to follow a career as a carer.
When she was interviewed by her now residential home employer she came across as shy and lacking in confidence, but during her six month induction period she demonstrated outstanding development.
Shauna was put forward by Karen Rogers, manager at the Llys y Seren Residential Care Home.
“I’ve done a lot of growing up in the last year,” admitted Shauna, aged 24, from Port Talbot.
Shauna experienced the death of a close family friend who was a victim of cancer aged in their 50s.
She had jobs in the retail sector initially, but then worked in a volunteer role for eight months at the main hospital in Port Talbot because she knew she had not got a chance of a job as a carer without that experience.
“The death of a family friend really affected me and I was determined to make a career in the caring profession,” said Shauna. “I’m delighted I made that choice.”
Llys y Seren has 60 residents in units of 10, the majority suffering from dementia.
Home manager Karen said Shauna originally thought the home was offering her a volunteer role rather than a full-time job as a personal care assistant.
“She visited the ‘Me Myself and I’ café in Briton Ferry, which specialises in dementia, and also became a dementia friend before starting her role at Llys y Seren,” said Karen.
“This showed us that Shauna had the drive and passion for care as a vocation.”
Once at the care home Shauna enjoyed chatting to residents and getting to know their likes and dislikes.
“With this information she would eagerly help the team leader add to the care plans, which was very impressive as she had no prior care experience or qualifications,” said Karen.
Despite her inexperience, Shauna was quickly placed in the dementia unit at Llys y Seren as she understood the nature and impact of mental health issues on residents and the impact of dementia on the key people in individual’s lives.
Karen says she has already become a role model to long term staff.
“When we first met Shauna we would never have thought that she would be the first to get up and sing for the residents, which she does now with pride,” said Karen. “Residents remember Shauna’s name and often ask when she she’s next in.
“Since working with us we have never seen Shauna sad, she is always consistent, a very happy person who always has a smile on her face.”
Karen said Shauna is a great ambassador for the home and not only sees Llys y Seren as her workplace, but also feels a sense of belonging.
“Shauna is an outstanding worker, an asset to Llys y Seren,” said Karen. “She is proof that the attributes needed to be a great carer are passion, drive, a positive attitude and commitment.”
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have received a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.
“We take our hats off to them.”