Second award looms for top carer Oonagh

Oonagh with one of her patients. INNT 35-626con
Oonagh with one of her patients. INNT 35-626con

A NEWTOWNABBEY care worker has been rewarded for her exceptional efforts looking after individuals and helping society with a nomination in the prestigious NI Independent Care Awards.

Oonagh Duffy, who works in the Priory Group’s Ben Madigan Care Home, earned herself one of three nominations in the Best Practice in Dementia Care category.

Should she win, it will be the 25-year-old’s second major award this year, having won the Carers Award at the Houston and Williamson Funeral Services Awards.

The occupational therapist has redecorated huge swathes of the home to keep residents from becoming bored.

One room has been transformed into a bar, where residents’ families can bring them in a drink which is then served as if they are out on the town, while a traditional sweet shop is currently being built.

Classic treats are being sourced to be sold in the shop, where one resident who used to be a shopkeeper will serve other service users for half an hour a day.

Oonagh has also built an internal garden which she uses as a sensory room and has themed all the home’s dining rooms. One room has a beach theme, complete with decking and a seaview mural on one wall.

Oonagh also regularly takes service users for day trips to the seaside or to museums using the home’s minibus.

Oonagh was nominated for the gong by Karen Fleming, who said: “She has totally transformed our dementia care. She works incredibly hard, much longer hours than she has to, and has improved the lives of all our service users.

“Recently we threw a few parties in the bar while the Olympics were on, and she would even come in on her evenings off to watch the Games with our residents.”

The Care Awards recognise the quality and commitment of staff working in the Independent Health and Social Care sector in Northern Ireland. Outstanding staff will be acknowledged for the enormous contribution they make to society and the individuals they care for.