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Celebrating our team members

On 18th October, colleagues from across our organisation came together in celebration at this year's STAR Awards. The event is dedicated to recognising the achievements and contributions of our incredible people, who are the heart and soul of Optalis. 

The STAR Awards provides us with a special opportunity to take time out of our busy day to say thanks and well done to someone we work alongside. This year with an incredible 173 nominations, a huge number of our team members have heard great feedback about the work they do, which serves as an important morale boost. Our judging panel of peers from across the organisation, selected winners in each of the seven categories, highlighting the spirit of excellent care and support we strive for every day. We would like to say a huge congratulations to all our winners and nominees. 

We were really pleased to be able to take this opportunity to shine a light on our people, who have gone the extra mile to deliver services. We know that the STAR Awards will continue to provide inspiration for all of us to make a lasting and positive difference to the lives of the people we support.

David Birch, Chief Executive, said:

“I love being able to celebrate the amazing work being done each day by people across Optalis. The STAR awards are a great opportunity to reflect on all the different things we do to help people to live gloriously ordinary lives. I enjoyed reading each and every nomination – they painted a wonderful picture of our multi-talented, warm-hearted Optalis family of care professionals making a genuine difference wherever they go. I would like to thank all of the nominees, all of the people who nominated them, all of our winners and everyone at Optalis for brightening people’s lives every day. It makes me very proud”.

Highlights from the winning nominations are shared below, together with details of 2 special recognition honours which were awarded to team members:

Absolute Delight Award - Winner: Billy Evans, Suffolk Lodge 
"He is very popular within the team and the residents and not to mention the staff, he works solo and keeps us safe, he never fails to do all his checks and will do anything to help us out." 

Admire from Afar Award - Winner: Alex Hood, Engagement and Communications Team 
Alex is excellent at her job and achieves so much. Before I joined Optalis I was impressed by our social media presence, the quality of our images and storytelling about what we do. When I joined Optalis, I found out that lots of this is Alex’s work."

Backbone of the Team Award - Winner: Maz Abraham, Community Lives
I value Maz for her creativity, her professionalism, her commitment, her ability to get the best from her teams and her willingness to embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things."

Champion of Inclusivity Award - Winner: Simon Shaughnessy, Supported Employment Service
He is non-judgemental, and coupled with his passion and advocacy, has been able to support several clients to maintain their employment, who may otherwise have lost their jobs without his input."

Rising Star Award - Winner: Akeisha Shakes-Holness, Suffolk Lodge
How proud am I to see her develop though the ranks of a career, she is an amazing problem solver. She has rolled out in house training for staff, supporting staff to develop in their roles."

Fountain of Wisdom Award - Winner: Chriss Weingarth, Short Term Support and Reablement Team
Chriss has worked with the STS&R Team for years on the Duty Desk. She has become so knowledgeable in that time and willing to use that knowledge to help you when she can, empowering others. She is the font of all knowledge when it comes to her specific role as a duty officer."

Customer Choice Award - Winner: Loddon Court Team 
After I had my operation, I stayed at Loddon Court and they took full care of me, checking in on me to see if I was OK. Everybody was comforting even when I was weak. Thank you to everyone at Loddon Court." 

Special Recognition Award - Thamina Ahmed, Abell Gardens
Tahmina is a very professional support worker. She is a night staff and she always put customers first. She has done something commendable this year with her calm and quick response to a critical incident. One day there was a very distressing event in the service opposite to ours. Night staff from that house came to ask for help with a medical emergency. Tahmina did not hesitate to go and help. She performed CPR while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Sadly the person she tried to diligently to help passed away. She stayed with the person and ensured that their dignity was maintained even in their death. Helping to ensure they were covered and placed in a restful position. She remained calm and professional in a such difficult situation. She is a true STAR.

Special Recognition Award - Janki Brar, Alexandra Place
Janki reacted with complete professionalism in what was a very frightening experience. Janki was working on duty in Alexandra Place overnight when there was a fire in one of the flats. Janki was able to assist the customer who was injured in the fire to leave her property to a place of safety. Janki assisted the fire brigade to the affected area and managed to keep all the other residents calm and reassured. Janki also managed to continue to deliver her planned care calls once the situation was safe. It is with great credit that Janki did not allow this experience to personally affect her and showed great resilience and returned to work the next evening. I feel Janki conducted herself and supported her customers in an exemplary way and I am very proud to have her as a colleague within Optalis and have great admiration for her.

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