Jessie Anderson has an unusual characteristic which distinguishes her from the ranks of dedicated carers working for Scottish domiciliary care specialist Bright Care – she is older than many of the clients she so assiduously looks after.
At a sprightly 79, Jessie, from Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, is proof that age is no barrier to providing an intelligent, caring and practical service which helps Bright Care clients to maintain an independent lifestyle within their own homes.
Jessie, who looks after her charges in Balerno, Juniper Green, Morningside and Corstorphine, said: “I regard myself as being very, very fortunate. I have my good health, my little car and I can spend my days doing a little bit of good.”
A former housekeeper and school meals supervisor, Jessie has spent most of her adult life looking after people and making sure that their immediate needs are quickly and professionally take care of.
Born in Balerno, she moved to Colinton and then, when her father died, to Peebles. She moved again to Dalkeith when she married at the age of 18 and has been living in the town ever since.
She held down senior posts in the school meals service and also providing meals for university students. Her sense of dedication meant that she stayed in jobs for up to 24 years at a time.
Her most recent role before joining Bright Care in February this year was as housekeeper in charge of the Abbeyfield Home in Dalkeith, where she catered for the needs of residents for 13 years.
She said: “The Dalkeith home was run by a committee, with whom I worked very closely and I am very proud of the environment which we built up together to make our residents’ stay as pleasant as possible. I left three years ago, when I was 76.
“Most of my family are down south or abroad and when I retired from Abbeyfield I still needed something worthwhile to do. I went to stay with my daughter for four months in America, but when I returned, I still needed a mission.
“I tried volunteering at the hospital – I even passed my exams and my disclosure, but no one got back to me. Then I heard about Bright Care and I decided that I would offer my services there, despite my age.
“They could not have been nicer. They asked if I kept well and if I had my own car. They were very understanding when I said that I could not do heavy lifting, but that I could undertake light chores such as ironing.”
Jessie now has a large number of clients who look forward to her regular visits. “They are really nice people,” she said, “often retired professionals. I do small household tasks which they find a bit difficult, but often I just listen to them chat – and I get my tuppenceworth in as well.
“It is a great career, and I would recommend it to anyone of any age. The clients often have had fascinating lives and it a pleasure to hear their reminiscences and their memories of the things they have done and seen.
“My only wish is that I had someone to do my housework and then I would go out and look after other people all the time.”