“My own experiences have opened my eyes to compassion for people as they cope with life’s troubles,” she explains. “I was widowed when very young so I know about sadness and grief – feelings some of the people I look after are trying to deal with.
“And I cared for my mother in her own home for about five years when she became poorly and developed dementia. In fact, I think everybody should care for someone for at least a little time – it really teaches you about compassion.”
Cornwall resident Lesley first worked in the healthcare sector in a local care home. However, for the last 14 years, she has been looking after people in their own homes, working in partnership with introduction agency Country Cousins.
“As a live-in carer you can dedicate time to people and get to know their needs and what they enjoy,” says Lesley. “One lady had been a ballroom dance champion and because my mum had been in the Royal Ballet we found we had a common interest. We would talk and watch Strictly Come Dancing on TV together. It was lovely.
“Another client had been an artist but was almost blind. I’d take him out in his wheelchair and as I went to art school myself I would try to describe what I could see in terms he’d appreciate – something like the sky today is like a Turner painting. We both enjoyed that.”
She adds: “This is not just a job, it’s something deeper than that. Of course, it’s very rewarding if you can get a smile and a thank you – that’s special. But it’s important to remember that first and foremost it’s your role to keep people safe, clean, and comfortable.”