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‘Ray of sunshine’ in running for top award

Hospice housekeeping manager Paula di Palma, who stepped up to lead the St Raphael’s housekeeping team in South London when Covid struck, is a finalist in the 2024 Our Health Heroes Awards, delivered by Skills for Health, which champions the voices of the UK healthcare workforce.

Paula di Palma: she loves making everyone feel special

Nick Stevens, CEO of St Raphael’s, says: “She knows every patient, family member, volunteer and colleague on first name terms. She treats everyone the same, always with a smile and genuine interest in who they are.” di Palma recently arranged a pizza party for a young patient whose family lived all around the world, as well as a last date night for an elderly couple the hospice was caring for. Every year, di Palma comes into the hospice on Christmas Day to cook and give presents to patients and goes out of her way to celebrate special occasions such as patients’ birthdays.

Róisín Yin-Poole, wellbeing services lead comments: “She makes us all feel special in her own little way. I remember walking into my office on a cold and dark December morning last year to find a small fibre optic Christmas tree placed on my desk. It made me smile and feel so much warmth and straight away I knew it was Paula. “These are really small acts of kindness, but they make a huge difference and help to make the hospice feel like a special place to be. Working in a hospice can have its tough days, but Paula is ‘a ray of sunshine’ for everyone here.”

The Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards is sponsored by NHS England, NHS Employers, NHS Shared Business Services and more. Gold, silver and bronze Operational Support Worker of the Year award winners will be announced at a ceremony held in London on 16 April.

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