An “inspirational” senior care support worker whose dedication saw him help a resident overcome addiction and reunite with his estranged son after eight years has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Denis Mulcahy’s commitment to his role at Ucan Care Ltd, Hillside in Pontypridd led to the resident’s family describing him as the “best, most functional individual he has been in 30 years.”

But it’s all in a day’s work for the 51-year-old who goes “above and beyond,” helping residents regain control of their lives, whether it be through losing weight, gaining independence or getting on top of their finances.

It is Denis’ passion for his caring role that has landed him a place in the final of the major national competition, the 2022 Wales Care Awards, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare.

The glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday October 21, 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.

Denis who lives in Trehafod, Pontypridd with his partner is shortlisted for the Supported Living or Small Group Community Living Care Practitioner Award, sponsored by Educ8 Training.

The father-of-two has worked in the health and social services sector for 13 years, joining Ucan Care Limited in 2016 providing supported living for adults with a primary diagnosis of a mental health condition.

His extensive experience and background has involved him working across the fields of rehabilitation, respite, dementia, daily living skills, respite, palliative care in a variety of settings such as hospitals, domiciliary care and supported living.

Putting Denis forward for the award, managing director, Helen Jones said he “goes the extra mile” and “empowers residents to reach their full potential” with his “pleasant, polite and calm persona.”

She added: “Denis enhances the quality of our service provision in his dedication to improving the lives of our residents, respecting their freedom of choice, dignity, diversity and independence…and he encourages them to succeed in everything they do.”

Denis’ notable achievements include working on a one-to-one basis with one resident, helping him manage his own finances and make better lifestyle choices.

He also helped him get back in touch with his son after eight years which had a “huge beneficial impact” on his well being with his family commenting it’s the “best they’ve ever seen him.”

Denis was also hailed for being a “positive influence” on another resident who struggled with weight gain and drinking, helping him lose two stone and get his diabetes under control through a programme of routine physiotherapy, exercise and alcohol reduction.

He has also worked with others giving them the confidence to be more independent and sociable.

About being shortlisted, Denis said: “I am absolutely stunned, I still can’t get my head around it. I just sat down with my partner and cried my eyes out.

“I can’t take praise, I don’t shout things from the rooftops, for me, it’s all about the team and empowering and meeting the needs of the residents.

“There are some real heroes nominated so to be among them is an exceptional honour.”

Denis, who recently completed his Level 5 qualification added: “Some people are very vulnerable when they come here and it’s so rewarding and humbling to see how far they come on.

“They tell us they love it here and that they feel safe and confident and that’s the best compliment you can have.

“Some of the success stories have even seen people find their feet in the world again by getting jobs, forming relationships and it’s my job to inspire them to do that, it’s a real privilege.

“It’s lovely to be a part of Hillside and part of the residents’ story.”

Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.

“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.

“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.

“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.

“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.

“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.

“They are Wales’s finest.”