* Theresa Richards with her gold award.
A Llangollen woman who has helped scores of people fulfill their dying wishes has been honoured for her pioneering work.
Theresa Richards, who completes 40 years in the NHS this year, picked up one of the main awards at the Wales Care Awards.
The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional work in the care sector and the ceremony, sponsored by Onyx Healthcare, was held at City Hall, Cardiff.
Theresa won the gold award in the category for Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care, sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.
Having started out as a cadet nurse before qualifying as an RGN, she has for 17 years specialized in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, and her current role within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is as End-of-Life Care Nurse Facilitator, a position supported by Macmillan.
Since 2013 she has been responsible for introducing the Six Steps to End of Life Care programme in the independent care sector in North Wales.
Formerly only available in England, it entails working in partnership with local authorities to ensure that patients reach the end of their lives in the care home of their choice instead of going into hospital.
“I have adapted it and given it a Welsh slant,” she said.
Initially working only within Wrexham and Flintshire, she has since overseen the expansion of the scheme across North Wales and into Powys, and it is hoped that the whole of Wales will soon be involved.
Tracey Evans, the programme’s assessor and facilitator, who nominated Theresa for the award, said the work entailed developing a close partnership with the local authorities, supporting doctors and district nurses with practice development and ensuring that facilitators are trained to deliver the programme to the highest standards.
“Through the programme she ensures that the individual has a voice and is supported to stay in his or her preferred place of care, and that these wishes are documented in advance care planning,” said Tracey.
“Theresa is passionate about ensuring that people have the best quality of palliative and end-of-life care, and the number of people who are able to remain in their preferred place of care is testimony to the quality of her work.”
Theresa, who recently won the Bevan Foundation award for innovation for her work on the scheme, said she was proud to see how the programme was being implemented and that residents’ wishes were being respected.
She was accompanied at the ceremony by Tracey, with whom she works closely, and her husband Peter.
“It was a wonderful evening and it was very gracious of them to give the award to someone not directly employed in the care sector, even though I work in very close partnership with the sector,” she said.
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have received 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 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.”