It began in Christchurch, New Zealand with providing day-care for other people’s children. Val went on to raise six offspring of her own but, in the process, she also fostered two youngsters and looked after children from the local orphanage during holidays.
Now living in the UK, she’s spent much of the past two decades caring for people facing the health challenges that come with old age – first working in a residential nursing home, then teaming up with introduction agency Country Cousins to become a self-employed live-in carer.
She says: “I find the work very rewarding – I’d do it for nothing really! Perhaps part of the reason why I like it is because of the time I spent looking after so many children. Even when I’m on leave, if someone takes a tumble I’m often the first to help pick them up. I look out for people wherever I am and whatever I’m doing – it’s just in me, I suppose.”
Val’s a firm believer in attention to detail: “I pick up on the simple things that can make a big difference. Just one example was a lady client who always liked to eat her meals with a nosegay of fresh flowers on her tray. Not everyone would bother to do that little extra bit for her.”
She adds: “Respect is important too. People want to be treated in a certain way, so I ask them what they like and I listen to what they tell me. Everyone appreciates that.
“Care in a person’s own home can really benefit their quality of life, especially if the carer is able to relate to them and cultivate a good relationship with their family – two things that are always my goals.”