A dedicated woman who brings comfort to people as they come to the end of their lives is in the running for a prestigious national award.
Nicola Williams, of Cyncoed, Cardiff, has established a glowing reputation for ensuring patients receive the best possible level of care.
The mother-of-four only began working in the care industry in 2014 with Pineshield Health and Social Care Services, based in Whitchurch, Cardiff.
But Nicola, 46, has made such an impression since then that she has progressed to the role of field care supervisor and runs the organisation’s palliative team.
She can now look forward to attending the Wales Care Awards at City Hall, Cardiff, after being shortlisted in the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award, sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.
“It is important that people are comfortable right at the end of their life,” said Nicola.
“We go to people’s homes and it matters to me that people can stay at home rather than having to go into hospital. People are comfortable being in their home.
“It is difficult to see the end of someone’s life, but you just have to do the right thing. You put your feelings to one side and put everyone else’s feelings first.”
In one instance, Nicola reacted to a call from the distressed daughter of a woman who was being cared for by the palliative team.
The woman complained that, although her mother had been made medically comfortable, she had been left in a dirty nightdress and pad.
Nicola rushed to the woman’s home to ensure she was cleaned and received the deserved level of dignity.
“I just couldn’t leave her there like that,” she said.
“I asked a colleague to come with me and we cleaned her. I didn’t think anything of it.”
It particularly matters to Nicola that family members get to be present at the end of someone’s life.
She has acted on instinct and called for relatives to attend as soon as possible, even disagreeing with the judgement of district nurses about a patient’s condition.
“There was one occasion when I felt it was vital that the family got there immediately,” she recalled.
“The person died a very short time later and the relatives made it just in time. If I hadn’t made that decision then they would not have been present.
“It is important that the family are there and I want to make sure that happens.”
The impact Nicola has made in palliative care is particularly impressive as her background is not in the care industry.
She previously worked at Butlin’s in Minehead and then focused on bringing up her children, before she applied for the role of care worker with Pineshield in 2014.
Nicola was given the job and, having undergone thorough training, quickly proved adept at working in a care environment as she progressed to her current role.
Her efforts have been greatly appreciated by Pineshield bosses, leading to her being nominated for the Wales Care Awards.
Nicola plans to attend the ceremony on Friday, October 18, with her partner, Martin. It will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
“I’m still in shock,” said the Nicola. “You just don’t expect to get an award for the work you do.
“I feel very proud to have been shortlisted and I would like to thank everyone for making this happen and for their support.”
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.
“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.”