A total of 90 carers from Extra Hands, which has offices in Heacham and near Norwich, were nominated for the prestigious Gill Chase Award - an annual event to thank carers who have been nominated by their service users and their families for their outstanding work.
The Gill Chase Award was started five years ago in memory of a long-standing Extra Hands carer who died suddenly in 2014 aged 68, and this year eight carers were shortlisted.
The judging panel said the competition was extremely tough, but carer Stella Cason, who joined Extra Hands just over a year ago, took the 2019 title.
The King's Lynn resident's nominations described her as a “wonderful carer who is very kind and thoughtful who constantly demonstrates empathy and understanding".
“She is hugely patient and does it all with a smile. I could not cope with mum’s needs without all of your team and I value Stella’s love, foresight and communication,” said one nomination form.
Stella, who has two grown-up children and a partner Ian, previously worked at a residential care home and was overwhelmed to win the Gill Chase Award.
"I didn't expect this. I really enjoy what I do. I'm happy here and it's nice when you know you've brought enjoyment to somebody and made their lives easier - that's rewarding enough for me.
"It's lovely to get this award. But, as I say, if I go somewhere and a service user has got a smile for me, and they are happy when I've left that is rewarding enough for me. One of my service users recently put a little sticky note on me that said 'Stella the Best' and that just meant everything to me."
She added: "Extra Hands is a lovely company to work for. I think the support you get makes this company stand out. When you've got everyone from top to bottom working as a team, you never feel like you are working on your own."
Lynda Hilliard, manager of our Heacham office, had nothing but praise for Stella: "She is naturally caring and well organised and colleagues have praised her when they have been out shadowing her.
"Families have complimented Stella about the quality time she spends with their relations and the kindness shown - she always goes that extra mile. Stella is very professional at all times, supporting our service users in every aspect, enjoying the time she spends with them and takes pleasure in listening to stories they have to tell."
This year's runner up was Dereham resident Andrea Johnson who has worked for Extra Hands for just over two and a half years.
Her nominations said she has a very calm way about her, is always polite and she also pays great attention to detail.
"To have been shortlisted and to hear what others have said about me, and then to have been a finalist is mind-blowing," Andrea said during the award ceremony.
"I like doing my utmost to help our service users and make sure they can stay in their homes for as long as possible so they can be stay as independent as possible. That's what my focus is - to look after our service users to the best of my ability. and make sure they are safe."
Hayley Claxton, our manager at our Norwich office, said Andrea was a carer everyone would want in her team: "She is committed to ensuring that the people they support have a good quality of life.
"She will go that extra mile regularly, escorting their service users to our social events. She has taken the time to really understand people as individuals and she is outstanding in achieving good outcomes for them.
"Extra Hands are very lucky to have Andrea and she was so deserving of her nomination."
The other nominees were King's Lynn residents Pamela Aberdeen and Julie Wooberry as well as Heacham resident Susan Bloy.
East Runton resident John Thompson, Amy Rix, of Cantley, and Joanne Warrant, of Spixworth, were also shortlisted.
Extra Hands' Heacham office was rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year.. The company was also the first in the county to offer well-being checks to help reassure families and friends who can’t always be available to help.
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