FOUR dedicated workers from a Merthyr Tydfil care home are in the running for national awards, known as the ‘Oscars’ of their industry.
Sreeja Ranjith, 36, a nurse, Patricia Brown, 32, community manager, Luke Jenkins, 27, activities coordinator, and Kelly Collard, 35, a senior carer, all based at Greenhill Manor Care Home in Pentrebach, will be at the 2016 Wales Care Awards ceremony on Friday October 21.
The awards, run by Care Forum Wales, will be held at City Hall in Cardiff.
Sreeja Ranjith, 36, often spends time on her days off taking residents out for meals or on shopping trips and also brings in her young son to cheer them up.
Sreeja, who is shortlisted in the Nurse of the Year category sponsored by Ontex UK, is originally from Bangalore in India and came to the UK in 2004.
Sreeja has been married to husband Sai Ranjith, who is also 36, for the past eight years and the couple has a son, Ankith, who will be two this October.
The fact that she regularly takes little Ankith in to Greenhill Manor to meet the residents is one of the things that has endeared her to everyone at the home.
Sreeja said: “I like to do things to make people’s lives a little nicer, which is why I take my son into see them.
“They love meeting and talking to him and I think it reminds some people of their own families and children.
“Whenever I can I also come in on my days off, without pay, if there is a special activity happening at the home or if I can accompany people on trips out.
“I go with them to places like local restaurants for a meal, the shops or to concerts and firework displays.
“It helps motivate them and feel as if they are still in touch with the outside world and not just stuck indoors all the time.”
Sreeja added: “I love my job and do things like this to keep the residents happy. I also try to stay as cheerful as possible as that helps them.
“It’s been amazing to be shortlisted for the Wales Care Awards and I’m still a little bit in shock about it. I’d like to thank all the residents and staff who contributed to my nomination.”
Also thrilled to be nominated is Patricia Brown, who has been shortlisted to receive an honour in the commitment to training and workforce development category, sponsored by Pendine Park Academy.
As well as being a hands-on community manager carrying out person to person care, Patricia is tasked as a manual handling trainer for Greenhill Manor Care Home, and has also assisted at a number of homes with the region.
She first learned to be a manual handling trainer in 2007 and since then refined her training techniques and delivery to constantly improve both her own skills set and that of others. She also trains colleagues in safe use of bedrails and emergency fire evacuation procedures.
The mum-of-three said: “It can be challenging work, but it is important to be flexible and supportive to all our staff and to be able to adapt our skills to accommodate the needs of each individual resident.
“In the end it’s very rewarding to know that you have made a difference and been able to pass on skills which can make someone’s life that much more relaxed, happy and comfortable.”
Former rugby player Luke has been nominated in the Promoting Fulfilled Lives award, sponsored by Boots.
Luke, who used to play on the wing for Dowlais and now coaches an under sevens team, said: “I was shocked and overwhelmed to hear I’d been nominated. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of my colleagues, manager and wife.”
Luke arranges daily trips to visitor attractions and shopping centres tailored to the preferences of residents who are very active in the community despite their health difficulties. He has been described by colleagues as a “key team player.”
The final member of the Greenhill team to be at the ceremony on Friday is Kelly Collard who was nominated by the home’s general manager Mark McCole and there were additional glowing testimonials from other colleagues and relatives of people in her care.
Praising her professionalism, high standards and enthusiasm, Mark wrote: “She never fails to share information, build relationships, engage and communicate, and show empathy, compassion and respect whenever necessary.
“She is a practical person who uses her knowledge and skills for the benefit of others.”
Kelly said she was “gobsmacked” to have been shortlisted for such a prestigious award and for doing what she enjoyed.
“I like to think I am brightening up someone’s life and when I get a smile back I am happy,” she said.
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.”