A COVID warrior is in the running for a social care ‘Oscar’ after her unflinching efforts to help keep a care home coronavirus free.

Arlene Elano, deputy manager of Pendine Park’s Bodlondeb care home in Wrexham, says her nomination at the Wales Care Awards 2022 is a ‘beacon of hope’ and a tribute to the entire team there.

Arlene has already been honoured by the Philippines ambassador to Britain, and appeared in an international television documentary about the devastating impact of COVID on the care sector.

Now colleagues at Pendine Park are hoping she will be a star of the red carpet once again at the prestigious Wales Care Awards, dubbed the Oscars of social care.

Mum of three Arlene is on a three-strong final shortlist in the award category celebrating Leadership and Management in Residential Care, sponsored by Christie & Co.

Organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales, the Awards celebrate exceptional work.

Supported by lead sponsor Ontex UK, the winners of gold, silver and bronze will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall on Friday, October 21.

It will be live streamed online, and the host for the evening will be popular tenor, Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV advertisements.

Arlene said: “I was quite shocked but also felt very humble and proud when I was told by my manager that I had been nominated for this prestigious award.

“It is really a beacon of hope and a tribute to the team at Bodlondeb because without their commitment, loyalty and driving force to follow best practice in stopping Covid from coming into the home we would have seen very different outcomes.

“No one could have foreseen the destruction covid brought to society, there’s not one person who has not been affected or seen suffering like we have never experienced as a nation.”

Arlene started her nursing career in her Philippines homeland but moved to Wales and has worked at Pendine Park for 20 years.

She was hailed as a guardian angel during the height of the pandemic when she introduced and helped maintain the toughest of measures to keep COVID-19 out of Bodlondeb,

Manager Ann Chapman said Arlene was a COVID warrior who went above and beyond to protect vulnerable residents, and her fellow staff.

Ann said: “She became the Chief COVID Warrior, determined to keep COVID out, which was achieved during the first two waves despite very high community transmission.”

Arlene’s leadership was so inspirational it later featured in an award winning two hour documentary highlighting the remarkable achievements of Filipino frontliners in Europe during the pandemic. Later she was invited to a screening of the film in London where she was presented with a certificate by Juan EU Konek which produced Kontra Corona – the documentary film about Filipino frontliners in Europe and their families during the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her knowledge, skills, practice of infection control and enhanced methods needed during the pandemic were also recognised by Pendine who presented her with the company’s top Semmelweis Award in 2021 as an exemplar of hygiene efficiency.

Reflecting COVID Arlene said: “We watched the impact on families and residents and our hearts broke for the time lost to families.

“However, it also gave us all time to reflect on what is meaningful to our lives. At Bodlondeb we have developed a culture of support, kindness, and love for each other and to join together as one in our relentless fight to protect our residents, our families and our friends.”

She added: “I enjoy a challenge and I love the opportunities Pendine offers in all aspects of my work here. One recent challenge is in staff recruitment from overseas where I was able to help us counter the national shortage of nurses, by bringing 10 qualified nurses from India and Philippines to Pendine.

“Over the years I’ve learned that to reach a goal you may have to take many routes but if your focus is steadfast and you have the backing and support of a loving family and a nurturing team then anything is achievable.”

She is looking forward to attending the awards ceremony with her manager Ann Chapman and Bodlondeb colleague Maggie Langford, the family liaison nurse, who she described as ‘pillars of support’ throughout her Pendine career.

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 like Arlene 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.”