Following a stint judging the Regional finals before Christmas, I had the honour and privilege of being in Birmingham yesterday to judge the National finals of this year's Great British Care Awards.
As someone who spent many of my formative years living on the site of a care home, I had a unique viewpoint of the hard work, dedication, passion and skill that goes into running a successful care service. That experience has stuck with me to this day and forever left me in awe of the countless Managers, Nurses, Coordinators, Care Assistants, Support Workers, Domestic Staff and Catering teams who put others’ needs before their own day in and day out to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society are cared for.
For this reason, I was excited at the prospect of judging for the Great British Care Awards this year. I was expecting to meet some inspiring people who had excelled in their roles over the course of the past year and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!
Unfortunately I can’t go into any specifics at this stage with the winners to be announced at the gala event on 31st March, but suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting such a wide range of people from different backgrounds and different types of health and social care organisations.
I was fully prepared for being inspired by the many stories I heard of how the shortlisted individuals had gone above and beyond in their daily working lives. I was also not surprised that each and every person I met felt that they were ‘just doing their job’ and were surprised at being nominated for an award. I was surprised however at how enlightening I found the day and the insight I got into the different approaches that people take to the same role and the innovative methods they use to deliver some incredible outcomes for those they care for. This made my decision in choosing a winner that much harder and I actually found myself feeling guilty that I was only able to choose one winner, when clearly they all deserved huge recognition for the work they do.
Taking part in the process also reinforced my belief in the important role that the Great British Care Awards play in promoting the excellent work that goes on across social care, particularly at a local level. Even as I write this, there are a number of negative stories circulating in the tabloids of abusive care workers and poorly run care homes. Of course this behaviour is wrong and should be highlighted, but this type of coverage is focusing on a very small minority of cases and should, I believe, be balanced by just some of the many fantastic stories out there to provide a more balanced view of the industry and offer some comfort to those seeking care for a loved one.
This makes it all the more important for us to continue recognising and celebrating the extraordinary job that so many people are doing up and down the country to keep our most vulnerable people safe, healthy and happy. After all, these are the very people we entrust to look after our most treasured possessions, those who we love and cherish so dearly, when we are no longer able to.