A nurse who has spent nearly half a century working in social care is still at the cutting edge of developments in her field and has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Mary Mowat, 65, began training as a nurse at 18 and has risen to become a director of one of the most successful nursing homes in South Wales, where under her direction a number of ground breaking projects have been pioneered, including the administering of medication by care assistants and providing work placements for university nursing students.

Lauded by her colleagues as an inspirational leader, it is this dedication and commitment to caring that has landed Mary who lives in Pontypool, a place in the final of a major national competition, the 2018 Wales Care Awards.

This is the 15th anniversary of the Awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall Cardiff on Friday 19th October.

The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales a not-for profit organisation which is celebrating its own 25th anniversary this year.

Mary is shortlisted for the Outstanding Service Award which is sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.

She is originally from Cwmbran and began her Nurse training at the age of 18 with The Isis Group of hospitals In Oxford in 1972.

After obtaining her Nursing Registration she joined the nursing staff at the city’s Littlemore Hospital as a staff nurse and was rapidly promoted to Ward Sister.

Mary later switched into the Community Care Sector where she was involved in setting up the first half way house in Oxford which successfully moved people out of the traditional mental hospital.

A few years later she moved back home to Wales as a ward sister at St Cadoc’s Hospital Caerleon and after six months returned to the community sector from the same hospital assisting mental health patients to remain in their own homes and to live independently, often preventing admission into hospital.

Now married with four children, Mary entered the voluntary sector, becoming project manager for the mental health charity Mind in Abergavenny, helping to resettle difficult to place residents into the community.

She moved into the EMI nursing home sector for the elderly managing various homes in Newport and Pontypool in 2000.

Four years later Mary was one of the directors who opened Claremont Court Care Home with in Malpas Newport which provides Nursing and Dementia Care for 36 residents. She is also the Responsible Individual at Ty Ceirios Nursing Home in Pontypool. Between the two homes she is responsible for about 175 staff.

Over the past few years she has helped stay ahead of the latest developments in the care sector.

She initiated the Proactive Care System for electronic medication administration at both nursing homes, in conjunction with Invatech and Cardiff University and under the auspices of the Welsh Government, known as the Remedy Project.

This is seeing for the first time care assistants administering medication in Nursing Homes. Under her guidance both homes have installed the Care Management System which means paperless care, freeing up nursing time. Mary is currently working with the University of South Wales and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board to introduce student nurse placements into both nursing homes.

A senior colleague says of Mary in her nomination “despite all these initiatives, Mary remains in personal contact with all her staff and residents who, without exception, love and enjoy her company. She is an inspirational leader. Mary is now married to Nick who she first met in Oxford and they have a daughter, Alice. They have worked in conjunction for many years and he is currently Manager of Regency House Care Home in Pontypool.

Mary said “what I love about my job is making positive interventions in other people’s lives, and getting a big smile from a resident makes everything worthwhile.

“Although the sector faces enormous financial challenges, we are still able to make a difference.

“All our residents come to us to carry on with their lives and we’re always looking at new initiatives to make this happen. I’m proud of my whole team and feel that I have been shortlisted for this award because of the team that I manage, and it because of their enthusiasm that that the Homes are successful. I’m very much looking forward to attending the Award ceremony in Cardiff.”

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.”