Abi Jessop is Manager of Pilgrim Care, our domiciliary care service based at Royd Court independent living housing scheme in Mirfield. Abi joined us as a carer aged 21. We found out what inspired her to work in care and the opportunities she has found to progress.
Caring wasn’t the first career I considered. For my work experience, I went to a neonatal unit at our local hospital. Then after I’d finished school, I went to work at a Christian school in Italy. I enjoyed the experience but I knew working with children full-time wasn’t for me.
I then worked at the bookshop and coffee shop for my church, Dewsbury Gospel Church. I really enjoyed interacting with all the older customers.
When I was growing up, my mum did bank shifts in a care home and sometimes I’d go in. There was one lady called Lottie who had grey curly hair and a twinkle in her eye. She always used to give me sweets and ask what I’d been up to. We also used to visit the care home as a school and sing.
I’d always enjoyed being around older people but hadn’t considered working with them until a job came up as a carer with Pilgrim Care in May 2009. I thought “This is what the Lord has for me now”. Little did I know I’d still be here all these years later!
Abi's favourite hymn: And Can It Be
"When we sing it as a church everyone gives it their all"
My Christian faith has always been important to me. I grew up in a Christian family and attended a Christian school, The Branch School in Dewsbury, which was set up by local Christian parents. It’s lovely that I do something I love in a Christian environment.
All my training has come from Pilgrims’ Friend Society. I’ve gained my NVQs and diploma in health and social care. For many years I worked with Georgina Lansdell, who used to be Domiciliary Care Manager. I learnt a lot from her and I progressed from Carer to Senior Carer to Team Leader and now to Domiciliary Care Manager myself.
When I first started, I was nervous. Supporting someone to have a shower can feel like a big thing. But the more I did it the more confident I became with things like moving and handling and personal care.
Abi says: “I’ll always ask Alexa to play worship songs at home. It really lifts my mood. I think our Alexa must be saved!”
One thing I like most about my job is the way we can be a family. Some of those who come to live with us don’t have much family, or their family are very far away. For birthdays, for example, I’ll help to organise a little party, with a cake.
I’ll always keep an eye out for events we could put on. We recently had a Macmillan coffee morning and coming up we have a Dancing for Dignity event, part of the campaign Dignity in Care.
At Pilgrim Care we have a small, close staff team. Caring can be a challenging role and as a manager I always try to empathise with anything my team might be struggling with and support them.
At Christmas we are very blessed by gifts from our local community. There is a lady who calls me up to ask how many ladies and how many men we have and makes sure that everyone gets a gift, labelled with a name tag. Our carers then hand these gifts out to everyone. It’s lovely seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they open them.
I often meet people who say they love older people but they could never be a carer because they couldn’t do personal care. I say, “Give it a try.” Personal care is just one part of it. When you have a love for the role, you see it’s about making sure all a person’s needs are met.
In her spare time, Abi likes to:
Unwind with a massage: “I’ll go to the local beauticians or for a real treat I’ll go with friends to a local country manor where you can have a massage, swim and sauna.”
Go for walks in the countryside: “I’m not the kind of person to just sit around at home. I like to be out in the fresh air.”
Take off with the campervan: “My husband, Gary, is doing up a campervan. We love visiting the Lake District or Wales.”
Find out more about working for Pilgrims' Friend Society
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