A dedicated occupational therapist is in the running for a top award after developing new guidelines to care for people coming to the end of their lives.
In the process, mum-of-two Helen Wooding has overcome dyslexia linked to another condition that causes visual disturbance.
Now, Helen’s passion for her work has led to her being shortlisted as a finalist at the prestigious Wales Care Awards, the Social Care Oscars.
The prizes will be awarded at a glittering ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, November 6.
Helen, 49, who works for the Social Services department of Wrexham County Borough Council, has been nominated in the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care sponsored by Barclays.
She married at 19 and put family first before achieving her BSc (Hons) Degree in Occupational Therapy at Glyndwr University after a four-year part time course.
It was while studying that Dyslexia was diagnosed which is linked to an unusual sight problem, Meares-Irlen Syndrome, became evident.
Meares–Irlen Syndrome is a form of visual stress which leads to difficulties with reading of books and screens.
She explained: “I found it difficult to engage with the academic side. It was a struggle to read in a certain light, a difficulty to focus and read a sentence, but then the reason was found.
Helen has now been working for the council for five years.
She said: “It is very rewarding to be able to help maintain the quality of life for service users approaching the end of their lives, often by ensuring that homes are properly equipped with aids and adaptations such as stair lifts and other necessities to assist service users to remain in their own homes.
“The development of the guidelines involved visiting all district nurses and GP practices in the Wrexham area to cascade and implement them.
“I also worked jointly with my health service colleagues to promote the effective use of the guidelines.”
The guidelines have been such a success that Helen has been contacted by other professionals from other areas asking for permission to use the guidelines in their work.
Helen helps those in hospices or hospitals, too, but enabling people to spend their days at home gives particular satisfaction.
She was nominated for the award by Katie Yeomans, an Occupational Therapist, who says that all of Helen’s colleagues backed the decision.
Katie said: “She is continuously striving to help palliative patients to live enjoyable, fulfilled lives, to make those on her adult caseload as safe and comfortable as possible.”
Her colleagues say she goes out of her way to find services and grants to help service users to live as comfortable lives as possible – “putting the service user at the centre of everything she does.”
Charlotte Flett, a Business Support Assistant for the Occupational Therapy Department, who joined the organisation at about the same time as Helen, is fully supportive of her nomination. “I do the administration and work very closely with her,” she says.
“Helen is so good at what she does, is passionate, and everything is in the service users’ best interest. She strives to assess a situation before deciding what can be done to improve their situation.
“She’s fantastic, and goes above and beyond what is required. Personally I think she deserves gold.”
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 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.”