Bernie’s caring side is shown for all to see

A Belfast woman who embarked on a career in health care at the age of 60 has been named Social Care Support Worker of the Year at the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Awards.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 7:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 10:22 am

And Bernie McErlean, who joined the team at Home Instead Down and Lisburn only three years ago, has been hailed as a ‘Belfast superhero’.

She celebrated her award win with the caring team at the glitzy award ceremony at the Crowne Plaza, Belfast last week.

Bernie was recognised for the amazing support she provides daily to her elderly clients, helping them to remain living comfortably in their own homes.

Lynn Elliott, owner of Home Instead Down and Lisburn, with Social Care Support Worker of the Year, Bernie McErlean, and Shona Burke, operations manager

Bernie even continued to provide companionship virtually to some clients when she couldn’t work during the initial lockdown, and has also provided much-needed comfort to her clients receiving end-of-life care.

She is said to take a pride in forming true, meaningful relationships with clients to ensure she delivers vital companionship to reduce instances of isolation.

Bernie said: “After a 27-year career in retail, I took voluntary redundancy as a manager at a local supermarket petrol station, but then panicked about what to do next.

“Ever since being a young girl I have always wanted to look after people, so I decided to take the plunge and have my first interview in 40 years with the team at Home Instead.

“Looking back, I wish I had made the move sooner, as I love being a care professional.

“I am honoured to have been put forward for the prestigious award, let alone to win.

“We had a fantastic evening at the award ceremony. Thank you to all involved.”

The Northern Ireland Health and Social Awards celebrate the hard work, dedication, and commitment of all those involved with or working within the health and social care sector in Northern Ireland.

As well as highlighting Bernie’s dedication and achievements, the awards turned the spotlight on the amazing work everyone in the industry does every day – work which is often overlooked.

Lynn Elliott, owner of the Home Instead office where Bernie works, said of Bernie’s accolade: “Bernie, our very own Belfast superhero, is an exceptional care professional who always goes above and beyond to support her clients within their own homes.

“We are so proud of everything she has achieved over the last three years.

“The Northern Ireland Health and Social Awards ceremony was a truly fantastic evening.

“We are in a sector that can sadly be forgotten about, so it was so brilliant to see all manner of health and social care professionals at the same table, the way it should be – the Doctor and Nurse of The Year side by side with our Bernie.”