A care home nurse hailed for her devotion in looking after people nearing the end of their lives has won a prestigious award.
Grandmother Karen Wilcox George was honoured for her dedication at the Wales Care Awards at City Hall in Cardiff.
Karen was in the company of the cream of the care sector from across the country at a glittering presentation evening.
Colleagues, residents at Greenhill Manor care home near Merthyr Tydfil, and their relatives, hold her in such high esteem that they were all involved in nominating her for an award.
Karen has worked at Greenhill Manor in Duffryn Road, Pentrebach, for the last four years. She’s been hailed for going beyond the call of duty to ensure people nearing the end of their lives are looked after in a proper and dignified manner.
Colleagues have described her as “an exceptional team member who exceeds all standards of care on a daily basis.”
Community manager Karen, who runs a 20-bed end-stage dementia unit, was silver winner in the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award category. The award was sponsored by SilverCrest Care Group. .
The Wales Care Awards showcase best practice across a hugely-important sector and it’s a chance to pay tribute in public to those who go the extra mile in looking after some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Lian Pearsall, hospitality services manager at the Hallmark care home, said: “Karen always goes up and above the call of duty, enhancing residents’ lives in all that she does on a daily basis.
“She has exceptional relationships with relatives and residents alike. Karen always treats others as if they are her own family.
“Karen assists and inspires the care team. She always goes up and beyond the call of duty demanding a high standard of excellence in her own practice as well as others.”
Karen, of Henry Street, Bargoed, worked when she left school in a betting shop before becoming a care assistant in her mid-twenties. It was her curiosity that led to her taking her nursing entrance exam.
She recalled: “I worked with an excellent nurse. Everything she did, I wanted to know how and why she was doing it. She pushed me to take the exam.”
But when she qualified, she was unable to find a full-time hospital job so, with bills to pay, Karen moved into the private care sector in Merseyside.
She and her team in south Wales now provide support for residents, and their families, also. Helping grieving relatives, who may have had mixed emotions when their family member moved into the care home, doesn’t end necessarily at the time of death.
Karen said: “I love my work. It’s making sure there is the best possible experience for everybody. People deserve compassion and dignity.”
She said: “We provide support for residents and their families. We get to know the ins and outs of lives. When people put someone in a home they can have mixed emotions, relief and guilt.”
After hearing she had been shortlisted for an award, modest Karen, shy about her age, had asked a colleague: “What did you do that for?”
The main sponsors of the awards were Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs. The MC for the evening was opera singer Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the televisions adverts for Go Compare.
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.
He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive 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.”