Nursing home employees celebrated at National Care Awards

Wednesday November 8, 2023

8th November 2023: Eight outstanding nursing home employees have been honoured at the Nursing Homes Ireland Care Awards, in association with Homecare Medical Supplies.

Hundreds of nominations were received and 24 finalists went forward to the national awards ceremony that took place Tuesday 7th November in The Round Room @ The Mansion House. 24 finalists from counties and communities across Ireland went forward for seven awards and one Overall Excellence Award. The eight winners come from nursing homes in counties Cavan, Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Meath, Westmeath and Wicklow.

The winners include an 82-year-old employee who hosts a range of activities to support nursing home residents, a hearing impairment man who supports deaf residents adapt to their new home, nurses, a senior carer, activities manager, maintenance manager, kitchen assistant.

The Overall Excellence Award winner was Kathleen Dunleavy, Activities Therapist at Esker Lodge Nursing Home in Co Cavan. Kathleen has been employed in Esker Lodge since 2004. 82-years young, she now works in Esker Lodge two days per week. She set up a men’s card club and a bridge club, playing herself, undertakes one-to-one chair exercises with residents, reads to them, sings, reads poetry, organises resident outings, and sits with them to lift their spirits. She has also established a book club in Esker Lodge. When Kathleen could not visit the nursing home during Covid19, she wrote a letter every week that was read out to the residents to lift their spirits and provide comfort.

The winners claimed their honours before 300+ representatives from Ireland’s nursing home, older person care and health sectors at Tuesday’s awards ceremony. RTE presenter Mary Kennedy was the event MC.

Tadhg Daly, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO extended his congratulations to the award winners and finalists.  “Congratulations to our winners for their fantastic achievement in winning a Nursing Homes Ireland Care Award. These Awards celebrate excellent care provided by staff in nursing homes and entries of an extremely high standard from across the country were received. An independent judging panel adjudicated on entries submitted for hundreds of outstanding staff and to win represents a brilliant achievement. Fellow staff, residents and visitors to the nursing home should be exceptionally proud of our winners achievements.”

He also extended congratulations to the Care Awards finalists. “To reach the final from hundreds of entries was a brilliant accomplishment and demonstrated commitment to providing the best quality care to residents. All our finalists should be very proud and celebrated in their nursing homes for their exceptional achievement.”

The NHI Care Awards recognise care excellence and staff within nursing homes. The Awards honour the vital role fulfilled by nursing homes and their staff in enhancing the lives of residents entrusted in their care. Nominations were invited from over 370 Nursing Homes Ireland member nursing homes, located in communities across the country. They were submitted by nursing home residents, visitors to nursing homes, staff, and the general public.

Pictures are available upon request and interviews with finalists may be facilitated. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 01 4699800 or 087 9082970.

Notes for the Editor

Nominees Profiles are available for download via the event programme here

The Winners

  • Overall Excellence Award winner: Kathleen Dunleavy, Activities Therapist, Esker Lodge Nursing Home, Cavan. Award sponsor: Homecare Medical
  • Mary McEveney, Kitchen Assistant, Cuan Chaitriona Nursing Home, Mayo. Award sponsor: AIB
  • Gerry Cogan, Maintenance Manager, Newbrook Nursing Home Group, Westmeath. Award sponsor: Phoenix STS
  • Brian McNamara, Director of Nursing, Greenpark Nursing Home, Galway. Award sponsor: JPA Brenson Lawlor
  • Ferdinand M. Malapo Jr, Staff Nurse, Foxrock Nursing Home, Dublin. Award sponsor: Nutricia
  • Colm Finnegan, Senior Healthcare Assistant, Curam Care Home Navan Road, Dublin. Award sponsor: Bank of Ireland
  • Pauric Farrell, Senior Carer, Sancta Maria Nursing Home, Meath. Award sponsor: BDO
  • Luke Coughlan, Social Care Leader/Activities Manager, Knockrobin Hill Care Home, Wicklow. Award sponsor: First Choice Purchasing

Winners profiles

Kathleen Dunleavy: When I joined Killeshandra social services in 1974, I realised the great need for physical therapy for the elderly. I studied chair based exercises with the extend group in Dublin. I came to work in Esker Lodge in 2004. It’s a joy to see the residents keeping time to the music and their faces light up when they hear the old familiar tunes that they once danced too. It’s a joy to come to work every week. Some residents expressed they would like to play cards so I set up a bridge club and 25 which we play weekly and the residents family’s come in and play along with us. We also have a book club which I have set up and meet once a month and discuss the book we have read the previous month which the residents really enjoy, particularly Michael Morpurgo books.

Mary McEveney: Mary has been working in Cuan Chaitrionas Catering Department for the past 18 years. It has been both an honour and privilege for her to serve her residents during this time. Mary is a powerful force in the workplace and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. She gets great job satisfaction from helping our most vulnerable in society. Mary is inspired at work daily and there isn’t a day that goes by that one of her residents doesn’t put a smile on her face.

Gerry Cogan: I am working in Newbrook since 2014 and every day is different. I like to see things done right, fixed properly and in working order. I enjoy conversations with the residents when doing a job in their room, from hanging up a picture, fixing something or asking them to choose a paint colour for their bedroom. I hear their stories, where they are from and what they worked at. They are always amazed about how the job turns out when I am finished. I feel I make a difference in the Nursing Home, and all the staff and residents know me by my name.

Brian McNamara: My parents established Greenpark Nursing Home in 1991 and older persons care has been a part of my life since. I love my role as Director of Care and feel privileged to be able to work with those who need it most. I could never see myself doing anything else.

Ferdinand M. Malapo Jr: Being a nurse has always been more of a vocation for me than just a job. It is a calling that I have responded my whole life from long time ago until the present. For me, I never consider what I do as something special but it has given me the drive so far to wake up very early in the morning and do what I think is best despite my shortcomings as a human being. I look at my residents as my own grandparents or parents. A simple gesture of “Thank you” from them after what I do can be several times lightening the heavy load of responsibilities of taking care what is left of their lives. As what I always say to my residents and their families… “I am glad to be of service to you”.

Colm Finnegan: I lost my hearing when I was two and a half years old in both ears and so have been living with a hearing impairment my whole life. Since I am fully deaf in both ears, I struggle to hear the TV, music which I love, and a group chat can be challenging as I cannot always catch everything in discussions. I know the challenges deaf residents face. I believe resources for deaf residents in nursing homes have changed for the better. One of my primary roles in Curam Care Navan Road is to ensure deaf residents and staff adapt well to each other and their environment. As a team we ensure that staff know residents with hearing issues. This means that deafness is not a surprise to them, and they have prior knowledge of how they plan to work together. By setting this expectations thing are easier and it never takes long for staff to build lasting relationships with clients. I am nominated for this award because I play a vital role in bringing awareness to the organisation of the needs of deaf residents.

Pauric Farrell: Being a caregiver for people with dementia is a truly fulfilling experience. It allows me to make a very positive impact on their lives, develop empathy and create meaningful connections with those I care for. The sense of joy I feel providing comfort and companionship to those who need it most is extremely rewarding. It’s giving me the opportunity to grow and learn while making a positive difference in their lives, and for my own personal reasons gives my life a greater purpose.

Luke Coughlan: I enjoy working with my residents because I am passionate about their lives. Every person deserves to be valued for what they can do, rather than what they can’t. My colleagues and I have developed an activities department that reflects this ethos. For us, the reward comes in watching a person pick up a paintbrush rather than focusing on what they have painted, or seeing a person smile when listening to a song they had long forgotten being sang. From them, we can learn. With them, we can grow.

NHI Care Awards Judging Panel

Prof. Amanda Phelan, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems Trinity College Dublin.

Paula O’Reilly, CEO of Irish Hospice Foundation

Andy Heffernan, Chief Executive, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Board Member of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Alzheimer Europe