A care worker who was inspired to help elderly people after nursing his grandmother at home has been shortlisted for a top industry award.

Matthew Phillips, a team leader at April Court Care Home in Swansea, has made the final of the Wales Care Awards 2018 which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The national awards are organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales which is also toasting 25 years of service this year. They acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

Matthew, 39, who grew up in Abergavenny but now lives in Swansea city centre, is in the running for the coveted Residential Care Practitioner gong, sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner.

The former bar worker, who helps manage a 30-bed dementia unit in the 77-bed home owned by Care Inn Ltd, will now attend a glittering awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 19 where the winners will be announced.

It’s a dream come true for Matthew who says caring for the elderly makes him feel happy and fulfilled.

“I’m really proud to have got this far,” he said.

“I just enjoy my job. As long as the residents are happy I’m happy. Some days are difficult and not every day is plain-sailing but I couldn’t see myself doing any other job because it’s so rewarding.”

Matthew, who attended Caerleon Comprehensive School in Caerleon, took on a variety of bar jobs after leaving school.

It was while living with his grandparents, Jean and Hayden Richards, Matthew first discovered his passion for looking after people.

“My grandmother became quite ill and suffered with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and a curvature of the spine among other things. Although my grandfather was the main carer, when I wasn’t working I would help out.

“Sadly she died in 2000 and that’s when I decided care work was what I really wanted to do.”

Matthew moved to Swansea and held a number of care positions in nursing homes as well as completing agency work before being appointed to his current position in 2016.

“I think you have to be a special person to be a carer, not everyone can do this job,” he said.

“You need a lot of patience, empathy and understanding. You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and understand how they would feel.

“I treat my residents like I would treat my own family. Just because they’re in a care home it doesn’t mean they can’t go out and enjoy a meal in a pub. We want them to experience everything they would do if they were living at home.

“It’s a great achievement to be shortlisted for the award. I have a great team around me. We shall see what happens on the night!”

Registered manager Lynne Cullen, who nominated Matthew for the award, described the team leader as an “invaluable” member of the team.

“There’s nothing that gives Matthew more pleasure than to do his job well and he gets the utmost from seeing the residents happy and well-cared for,” she added.

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.”