A care assistant from Merthyr Vale whose dedication to the residents at the home, has helped her overcome her own shyness is in line for a top care award.

Julie Sheen, who works at Greenhill Manor Care Home in Merthyr Tydfil, is known for her lively, fun personality and uses her sense of humour to engage with the elderly residents.

The 59-year-old has now been shortlisted as finalist at the prestigious 2019 Wales Care Awards, which aims to reward outstanding work in the social care sector.

But before starting her career in social care 11 years ago, Julie was actually quiet and shy. “I used to be very shy and at times I still can be, but I really do think that working at Greenhill Manor has helped to bring me out of my own shell and grown my confidence,” the grandmother-of-four explained.

Having previously worked part-time in a post office in Merthyr Vale before it closed, Julie had never considered a career in care work until she went for an interview at Greenhill Manor, a 120-bed care home that specialises in dementia care.

Julie, who has been married to husband Terrence for 40 years, now believes that her time at Greenhill and finding her vocation in a job she loves has helped her overcome her own shyness. And she says it is her ‘silly sense of humour’ and her love of the residents under her care that has been the key to her success.

“I never thought I would be able to do this type of job because I was so quiet, but I have always had a silly sense of humour and this has really come out in my work.

“As a care assistant, I have to take charge and be there for the residents and this has brought me out of myself and it is so wonderful. They get to know you and trust you and it is so important to keep things normal.

“I really like just spending some time with someone, sitting and talking to them, being silly.  I dress up each Christmas and it’s such a giggle. Last year I dressed up as Santa, in a costume that had legs stuck on the side as if I was riding a reindeer and it was really funny, although rather hot!

“And it makes my day to see how the residents respond to me, it really does make it all worthwhile.”

Julie has been nominated in the Wales Care Awards’ Outstanding Service category, sponsored by the Silvercrest Group, and will attend the glittering ceremony at the City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 18. The awards ceremony will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

The dedicated care assistant was put forward for the award by her co-worker, Amanda Francis, who said that Julie deserved to be recognised for her professionalism and commitment to Greenhill’s residents.

“Julie always wants the best for our residents and goes above and beyond her duties on a daily basis, going out of her way to make sure they have a fulfilled day.  Over the years, when we have had bad snow, Julie has stayed at the home for several days to ensure everyone is well cared for, she shows nothing but 100% to the residents.

“She is also a massive role model to her colleagues, and everyone loves her,” Amanda added.

Julie said she was totally surprised to discover she had been nominated for a Wales Care Award.  “Nothing like this has never happened to me before, but I am really looking forward to the awards ceremony.

“Working as a care assistant can be challenging but it is so fulfilling and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my residents. I had never really thought I could do care work before I started my job at Greenhill Manor but now, I wish I had done it a long time ago!”

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. It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”