Fulfilled living in later life

Friday 25th November 2022

Meet our team, Domiciliary Care Manager, Abi Jessop

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.

Pilgrims Friend Abi 1

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.

Pilgrims Friend Abi 2
Pilgrims Friend Abi 3

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.”

Pilgrims Friend Abi 4

Find out more about working for Pilgrims' Friend Society