A care assistant from Merthyr Vale whose dedication to her residents helped her overcome her own shyness has been honoured for her work.

Julie Sheen, who works at Greenhill Manor Care Home in Merthyr Tydfil, was awarded bronze at this year’s prestigious Wales Care Awards. Run by Care Forum Wales and held at the City Hall in Cardiff, the national awards aim to recognise the hard work and dedication of those in the care sector.

Known for her lively, fun personality and sense of humour when working with her elderly residents, the 59-year-old was recognised in the award’s Outstanding Service category, sponsored by the Silvercrest Group.

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.

Speaking about her Wales Care Award, Julie said she was totally surprised to discover she had been put forward.  “Nothing like this has never happened to me before. 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.”

Having previously worked part-time in a post office in Merthyr Vale, 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 Terrence for 40 years, believes that finding her vocation in a job she loves has helped her overcome her own shyness. And she says it is her love of the residents under her care that has been the key to her success.

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

The dedicated care assistant was nominated for the Wales Care Awards 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.  She is also a massive role model to her colleagues, and everyone loves her,” Amanda added.

Congratulating Julie on her award success, Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries for this year’s Wales Care Awards was extremely high.

“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 and 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.”