Shirley Bradley, the head of day care services at Friends of the Elderly in Malvern and Kidderminster, has celebrated her accomplishments in the care sector in recognition of this year's International Women's Day.

Having worked for the charity for nearly two decades, Shirley has shared her journey of transitioning from managing hotels in South Africa to dedicating her life by helping care for older individuals in the UK.

Friends of the Elderly operates day care services in locations spanning Worcestershire and Surrey, providing support for older individuals living with dementia and a range of age-related conditions.

Though her career choice was unplanned, Shirley found her skillset from the hotel industry seamlessly transferred to the care sector.

She said: "I realised that I loved working with and supporting older people."

Malvern Gazette: Monty the therapy dog with Shirley Bradley at Malvern Day CareMonty the therapy dog with Shirley Bradley at Malvern Day Care (Image: Friends of the Elderly)

Shirley began her career in care as a part-time day care assistant for two clubs catering to the different needs of individuals living with dementia and those living alone in the community.

In 2006, she stepped up to manage these two services.

It was in November 2021, after stints in various roles within Friends of the Elderly, that saw Shirley promoted to head of day care services.

Through managing day care services across multiple sites, Shirley emphasises the importance of effectively personalised care, with the individual's life story acting as the foundation of their care plan.

She added: "That way we can tailor support to meet their individual needs and include some of the things that they have told us they like to do."

Shirley stated she finds the life stories of her clients inspiring and conducts regular client meetings to ensure the services provided are consistently aligning with their preferences.

Clients are involved in every aspect of the centre's operation, from menu selection to significant decisions like redecoration and furniture purchases.

She said: "It is important that our clients feel included and that their opinions matter.

Shirley credits her support from her team for enabling her to fulfil her role.

She added: "I love working for Friends of the Elderly and am so lucky to work with the best bunch of colleagues and support a wonderful group of clients."