With your help, we can ensure that more carers gets the break they need.
We'd like to tell you about Dorothy and Robert, a mother and son team who have touched our hearts here at Leuchie House.
Dorothy is 94 years old and the sole carer for her son, Robert, aged 68, who is living with multiple sclerosis. No taller than five feet and always delightful, you would never guess that she is just one of an army of unpaid carers from across the UK who society has come to rely on to provide care for a family member or friend.
Now making up one in every 12 people in the country, 759,000 people in Scotland are providing a service estimated to save the economy £10.8 billion every year.
Like many who come to Leuchie, Dorothy told us that Robert's condition went undiagnosed for many years, "Robert has always been very sociable and used to love his job as the branch manager at the Co-op but would often suffer from intense migraines and had to be signed off work for weeks at a time. The phrase "Robert's had a fall" was often used by teachers, neighbours, friends and family as he was growing up. Robert, being the cheerful character he is, would laugh it off, teasing that he was the 'carpet police', just doing his job inspecting whether they'd been keeping up with the place."
It wasn't until Robert's colleagues had to carry him home from work at age 44 that he was finally diagnosed as having MS. Dorothy's husband had passed away a few years earlier, and she and Robert had never heard of multiple sclerosis, so they set about doing their research and became the ultimate mother and son team.
They only began coming to Leuchie two years ago after a friend could tell that caring was taking its toll on Dorothy. Dorothy now says she only wishes they had started coming here for breaks sooner, "Leuchie gives me a rest and some peace and helps me carry on by having something to look forward to. It’s great for Robert as well because it gives him a chance to socialise which is something that he's really missed as his health has deteriorated."
Dorothy and Robert's story represents a number of the growing challenges being faced by families across the UK for which Leuchie House is working hard to provide support.
An aging population
Social care services which give people the support, practical help and personal care they need to live as independently as possible within their community currently spend around £383 million annually, and the majority of people receiving this support are older with three quarters aged 65+.
At Leuchie, we can see the effect that an aging population has on families as spouses, parents, sibling and even some children are now caring for a loved one well into an age that they might be expected to receive care themselves.
At age 94, Dorothy says, "At home, I am still responsible for all the shopping, cleaning, cooking and laundry. I worry about what would happen to Robert if I were to fall ill or hurt myself."
No time for a break
For many carers, the demands of a 24/7 caring role can leave them at breaking point, desperate for some time to themselves, to sleep, recuperate, and see friends and family. A quarter of carers said they had not had a single day's break from caring in the last five years.
For those caring for someone with a neurological condition, access to a respite break may be even more difficult to find as there are few facilities that offer the specialist care their loved ones require. Leuchie House is the only respite centre in Scotland able to provide such complex care in a friendly, caring and non-clinical environment.
Dorothy explains, 'It had been years since either of us had had a holiday as we just couldn't find any place suitable. Now we both look forward to visiting Leuchie, where the staff couldn’t be more friendly and caring. I love walking through the house where every member of staff says hi to me by name!"
Caring for a loved one is done through love. But it is exhausting. No matter the size, your gift will make all the difference to carers, just like Dorothy, who are doing everything they can to support the ones they love.
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- Call us to find out more 01620 892 864