Norfolk Care Awards

Being appreciated is a great feeling. Being recognised for the great work you do makes all the hard work even more worthwhile. Read on to find out more…

In Norfolk, the annual Norfolk Care Awards showcase the excellence within the sector. Recognising those that go the ‘extra mile’ by demonstrating a commitment to delivering excellence and quality care and support services across the county.

The inspiration and innovation across the care sector in Norfolk is something to be proud of and to be celebrated.

See for yourself the pride of those working in care in Norfolk, listen to their stories. One day, if you join the sector, this could be you!


Before the ceremony we got to speak to all the nominees from the rising star and motivational leadership categories..  Read their stories below:


Charlotte Hardy, Care Assistant

How did you begin your carer in care?

When I finished my A Levels I applied to adult nursing but didn’t get an interview so I took a year off. I knew I wanted to pursue adult nursing so I applied to Mayfield’s Care Home, and that’s how it started.

Since working here I have gained so much knowledge working with different teams from nursing to mental health

These experiences have enabled me to get an interview for nursing – so I would say to anyone persevere to achieve what you want!

What is the best part of your job?

Helping others and giving back to other people. My grandma fell ill and carers made her day and made her smile – it is one of the reasons I chose to work in a care home – Being able to put a smile on someone’s face is amazing.

Also you get to learn about people – their back stories, the eras they’ve live in and who they are now – right until the very end.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It is when someone dies or falls ill, you have to remain strong and stop your emotions getting in the way of caring from them.  As long as you’re there for them – in their last moments that’s what matters.

What would you say to others interested in a career in Adult Social Care?

Go for it! If you don’t try you’ll never know! Don’t give up! Take each and every opportunity – there will be a right time and place for you – you just have to find it.

Vicky Wightman, Service User Representative

How did you begin your career in care?

I got a call from Shared Lives and was asked if I would be interested in being a service user representative.  I live with a Shared Lives carer myself but before this I moved about living in residential care which was quite unsettling. 

What’s the best part of your job?

As a service user, I get to sit on the interview panel and help recruit and assess carers. I contribute by asking my own questions and give challenging scenarios.

With my experience, I can give people, like me, a chance to have a good life. I can relate to what they’re going through.

What’s the most challenging part?

Making sure people understand what care is all about, what the values are and what it takes.  It’s very frustrating if people don’t get it from my perspective.

What would you say to others interested in a career in adult social care?

It’s a really good thing to do.  Being involved has given me more confidence and more independence.

Working in care is so important – a lot of people don’t have family, so you’d be making a real difference.

Monique, CAREGiver

How did you begin your career in care work?   

I had reached a crossroads in my career, following a position I’d held for over six years, where I no longer felt fulfilled. Whilst re-evaluating my career, I started helping out my neighbour, who has mobility needs and had suffered a recent fall. I spotted the advert for Home Instead, applied and had an in-depth interview, to see if it was the right fit for me and suited my work/life balance.  I’ve surprised myself and have enjoyed it so far and am still here! 

What’s the best part of your job?

I enjoy building up trusting relationships with clients and their families. They have wonderful stories to tell. No day is the same, no client the same, variety is the spice of life!

If I can add on a special task, such as revamping an overgrown garden, devising an appropriate menu or putting together a music playlist, then that’s a bonus. My visits often end with clients thanking me for everything I’ve done for them, with a smile on their faces, which is always a lovely note to leave on.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Arriving to find a client in distress because of their condition. Although any major issues are reported back to the office and in turn, families, to be dealt with, I am conscientious, as I genuinely want to care for people.

What would you say to others interested in a career in adult social care?

You do have to have a great deal of common sense, be forever vigilant, patient and most of all be friendly and very ‘hands on’. 

There are so many elderly who have neither family or friends to help them. They are so grateful to have a person pop in, keep them company and help with the tasks they can’t manage any more themselves. It teaches you a lot about humanity, diversity and medical conditions, that might affect us all at any time. Would you not wish to look after a senior adult, like you would wish your own parents were cared for? 

I love my job for the energy I can give, in helping my clients to continue living independently in their own homes and manage ongoing health/ageing conditions. It gives me great satisfaction each day, to know I have left my client, happy, safe and well looked after, both medically and mentally. It is an empowering rollercoaster, where I am learning continually about adult senior care.

The nominees for the 2020 Motivational Leadership category and their stories can be found below:

Leon Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Can you tell me about the pathway that you took to get to this position?

I have been passionate about inclusion and support for vulnerable people, particularly those with complex health diagnoses, from a young age. As a school leaver in 2000 I attended Paston College in North Walsham, where I completed my first NVQ in Health and Social Care. I then left education and initially followed a career pathway in the Catering and Hospitality industry. Although this was not to be a career I would pursue long term, it did provide me with many skills that have been the foundations of my success within the Health and Social Care Sector.

I returned to education in 2009 with the renewed aim of becoming a Social Worker. I enrolled in an ‘Access to HE’ diploma at City College Norwich, where I studied Psychology, Sociology and Government & Politics. In 2010 I was accepted onto a Social Work Degree with the University of East Anglia, but I chose to defer my start date (originally for 12 months) to seek work experience in a specialist field. It was then that I began working with The Hamlet Charity as a Support Worker and Activities Coordinator for children and young adults with disabilities. I loved the work and I was passionate about the charity’s mission; time passed and I never did return to full time education, I never completed that degree, but it didn’t hold me back. 

After working with The Hamlet Charity for nearly 5 years I was offered a position with private residential care provider, Black Swan Care Group. While working with Black Swan as a Regional Manager I was assigned 4 residential care homes in East Anglia. I was responsible for the management of 4 registered managers; supporting them to ensure they were compliant with regulations and continually improving their services towards an aim of outstanding recognition from the Care Quality Commission. While working with Black Swan Care Group I was able to complete my Leadership in Health and Social Care diploma.

I have been so privileged that my career in care, to date, has allowed me to work with a wide and varied client group; including Elder Care, Dementia, Palliative, Reablement, Disability and Mental Health. In 2016 I returned to the charity sector and began working at Nansa, originally as their Service Development Manager, and becoming their CEO in January 2020.

What’s the best part of your job?

What I love most about my work is the people, I was so touched to learn the staff at Nansa had nominated me.  The team I work alongside, and those we support, motivate and inspire me every single day. I simply believe I am their spokesperson, and in all honesty I only reciprocate the encouragement, respect and support others have shown to me, nothing more.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging area of my work, in the charity sector at least, is the procurement of funds that are necessary to make dreams become a reality. The people we support are ‘incredible’, many of them have overcome challenges and hardships I cannot even begin to fathom. As a charity, and social care provider, we aim to make lives easier, provide opportunities, and remove barriers. However, as is so often the case, the necessary equipment or resources needed to achieve our aims requires funding. Using social media, community events, charity shops etc, we try to share our stories and show the community how they can make a real difference to the lives of those we support.  

What would you say to others interested in a career in adult social care?

Working in care can be hard, succeeding in care is rewarding, and being passionate about care can be life changing; for those we support, as well as ourselves. 

Joanne Bolton, Registered Manager

Can you tell me about the pathway that you took to get to this position?

I started my career in care at 21 years old as a domestic and catering assistant at Cranmer House, the NorseCare home in Fakenham. This was something that wasn’t really planned and I really thought it would be a short term job. I soon realised that being in an environment where you can make a real impact on peoples lives was something I really enjoyed.

I applied for a role as a care and support worker and was offered a post. I worked in a variety of roles, starting as a casual staff member, then I worked nights for a while and found I enjoyed the day work most. I was asked to cover a more senior role to cover an absence and thoroughly enjoyed the role. I was then successful with my application for assistant manager at Glaven Hale in Holt. Glaven Hale was transitioned to Lloyd Court Housing with Care Scheme in Kelling and I continued my role there. In 2002 I was appointed as Manager at St Nicholas House in Dereham were I stayed for 8 years. I moved to Manage Harker House in Long Stratton and stayed for 4 years and then, 5 years ago I was appointed to the Managers post at Westfields in Swaffham.

What’s the best part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing others succeed. People enjoying fulfilled lives, doing things they have always enjoyed and enabling them to try new things is amazing. It may be that people living at Westfields have had to stop doing things they have always loved to do and to facilitate them to do these things again is wonderful.

Residents at Westfields are fully involved in all aspects of their home. This includes the recruitment and probation of new staff, picking décor and being part of the monthly magazine. Supporting the staff team with ideas they have or development they would like to undertake is also very rewarding. To mentor and lead people to increase confidence in their role and undertaking things that may stretch them is reflected in the high quality of care that is delivered.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The role of registered manager covers a huge variety of areas. It is sometimes difficult to “juggle” all elements and ensure the we are meeting all the requirements necessary.

What would you say to others interested in a career in adult social care?

Working in a caring environment  can be very hard at times both physically and emotionally but the rewards outweigh the tougher times completely. It is a very varied career where every day is different and you are making a difference to peoples lives constantly.

Helen Jackson, Home Manager

Can you tell me about the pathway that you took to get to this position?

I started as a registered nurse and took on the role of Head of Care then progressing to a Deputy Manager, whilst in this role I also completed my level 5 leadership qualification and then progressed on to my current role as Home Manager.

What’s the best part of your job?

There are so many wonderful things about my job but the staff and residents are what make me smile every day!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Health and Social Care is experiencing a challenging time across the board and working in a care home is no different but I have overcome this by being positive and being part of the solution rather then getting too focused on the hurdles we have to overcome, it provides such a sense of achievement to get things right for our residents and create a happy home for them. With the right attitude the team can overcome any challenges we face!

What would you say to others interested in a career in adult social care?

Go for it, it is such an amazing job and once you work in Health and Social Care you will never imagine yourself doing anything different. There is carer progression by completing qualifications and taking on new responsibilities and there is the opportunity  learn and grow not only in your role but as a person as well, I work in a care home environment and it is such a privilege to be part of our residents lives.I get to have fun and work with amazing people and every day is different!