A fun-loving nurse is in the running for a major award thanks to her work in bringing joy and laughter into the lives younger people with physical and learning disabilities.
Lisa Hallisey, 41, who is responsible for the care of 20 residents aged between 35 and 65 at Greenhill Manor Care Home in Merthyr Tydfil, is committed to providing them with the same opportunities as their peers, which includes organising holidays, nights out and themed parties.
The mum-of-two, from Penydarren, says much of her nursing approach was shaped by her experience working with people with learning difficulties in Holland during a seven year stay.
Lisa’s high standards of care coupled with the fun and joy she has brought to both staff and residents since she joined the home in 2009, has led her to being nominated for the Excellence in Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Services category sponsored by sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care (Silver) & All Care South Wales, in the 15th annual Wales Care Awards which takes place at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 19.
The prestigious national awards, run by Care Forum Wales which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has been dubbed the “Oscars” of the care industry as it acknowledges the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the sector.
Lisa said: “I’ve looked after quite a lot of the residents for the ten years I’ve been here. I’m a part of their lives and they’re a part of mine.
“I’ve got an excellent team here who support me. We’re like a family. I couldn’t believe it when I was told I’d been nominated for the award.
“I feel well loved by my colleagues and the residents and their family members.
“It means a lot but I couldn’t do it without my team and the nurses I work with.”
Lisa’s bubbly personality and infamous passion for fancy dress has enabled the younger people, who are part of what is known as the Penny Lane community in the care home, enjoy life in a way that means their physical and learning difficulties do not hold them back.
She explained: “I want them to try and lead normal lives. I’ve taken people on holiday to Butlins and we’ve dressed up as Little Britain characters.
“I took a lady out in Cardiff for her 40th birthday. I’ve been a clown, a soldier, an umpa lumpa, you name it I’ve been it!
“I always say cwtches are free and humour is the best medicine.
“We try to have a party or disco as often as we can. We even do raves!
“We have one lady who is very quiet but she’s a raver. Get her on the dance floor and she’ll show you some moves.
“It’s great because by doing that it’s our little doorway into their personality.
“I’ve gone through a lot of experiences with the residents. We had one who went through a divorce and I’ve been there for those in new relationships. They mean a lot to me.”
Lisa studied at the University of Glamorgan for three years training to be a learning disability nurse and was also working at Hensol Hospital in Pendoylan.
When she finished her degree the hospital was set to close and her then partner, who worked for British Steel, had the option to work at a site in Alkmaar, Holland.
Lisa said: “We thought at that point we might as well have a new experience. Initially I couldn’t find a job so I learned a little bit of Dutch.
“I’d noticed in the village where we were living that there was a lot of people with learning disabilities so there must be a day centre of some kind.
“Eventually I found it and walked in to volunteer. I ended up getting a job there for seven years.”
She added: “It made a great impression on me. They focused a lot on fun and getting people doing things themselves.
“There was lots of interpersonal work. It had a massive impact on me and I’ve carried that into my work now.”
In nominating Lisa for the award, clinical care manager Karen Beech said: “This nomination has been made on behalf of the whole team working on this community, who have great respect for Lisa.
“Lisa is committed to ensuring that residents in her care experience life in the same way as we all do. This includes regular holidays, days out and accessing the local community services on a daily basis.
“Lisa’s passion is dressing up and having fun. Fancy dress that is! She only needs the slightest excuse to dress up and everyone looks forward to seeing what outfit she is going to arrive in.
“Some of her outfits must take a lot of time and effort but are always worth it. It isn’t only the residents and the team who see the benefit of these.
“They also make the local community smile when she stops to put petrol in or go to the shop on her way to work. Lisa has a sense of fun which helps to make everyone’s day a little brighter.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and 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.”