A former diabetic nurse from Caerleon with more than 30 years’ healthcare experience has scooped silver in the care industry “Oscars”.

Qualified nurse Anne Thomas took the second highest prize at this year’s Wales Care Awards, held at City Hall in Cardiff.

The national awards, run by Care Forum Wales and sponsored overall by Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs, acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

Anne, 51, from Caerleon, Newport, was nominated for the Leadership and Management in Residential or Nursing Care gong, sponsored by Christie & Co, following a care career which spans more than three decades.

Anne, who has three grownup children; twin girls aged 25 and a son aged 28, switched jobs 20 years ago to focus on caring for the elderly and hasn’t looked back since.

As Executive Director of Linc-Cymru in  Cardiff, Anne is now responsible for some 600 staff including carers, cleaners, cooks and nurses across Wales and always goes “above the call of duty” to encourage their progress and protect their wellbeing.

Anne accepted her award at a glittering ceremony hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, best known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts.

“I’m surprised and very proud. It’s really lovely that the nomination has come from members of my own team,” she said.

“This is the first time I’ve been nominated for anything. I qualified as a nurse 30 years ago and have been involved in looking after elderly people for the last 20.

“The beauty of working for this organisation is that I have autonomy to make decisions that will benefit people very quickly. I think I’ve definitely found my niche.”

Anne was born in Chobham, Surrey, and completed her three-year nursing training at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London.

After qualifying, she worked as a nurse at a GP practice in London before becoming a community diabetes nurse and then returning to Surrey where she worked for Surrey County Council Health and Social Care Team, managing care homes.

Anne married Welshman Berwyn and moved “up the M4” to Newport where she was recruited by the Aneurin Bevan Health Board and helped to establish what is now known as the Gwent Frailty Team. This is a rapid response hospital discharge service supporting the resettlement of patients being discharged from acute services back in their own homes.

“This is where I discovered that working with older people and the pressures they face is what I enjoy doing,” admitted Anne.

“I like making a difference and delivering really good care which gives families confidence their loved ones are somewhere safe. Knowing they walk away happy we will look after their mum or dad is really satisfying.”

Anne has been working for Linc-Cymru Ltd for the past five-and-a-half years. The company specialises in providing affordable housing, advice and services to elderly and vulnerable people to enable them to live as independently as possible in their own homes and manages more than 4,000 properties across Wales.

One of Anne’s key strengths as a leader is the attention she pays to the health of her own staff which ensures they deliver the very best to their service users.

“Care is a hard job and people are very quick to criticise. If you don’t feel cared for and valued yourself you cannot care for and value the people you look after,” she said.

“If you can’t keep your staff and have a very high staff turnover it means you can’t maintain the continuity of care for those you look after. If there are new faces all the time, you cannot really know the people you’re caring for.

“It’s really important that staff feel valued and cared for.”

Nominating Anne for her award, Kay Mitchell, Registered Manager, said: “Anne goes over and above what is expected of an executive director to make sure not only those she manages feel supported and valued, but takes time to ensure the rest of the work force are looked after too.

“Anne has arranged wellness session for staff where they can relax, talk about any issues that may be affecting their wellness, such as money advisors, other such opportunities.  The results are a happy workforce that feel valued because of their leader.”

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”