Carer John tells us what Leuchie means to him.

From 6-12 June, we are celebrating Carers’ Week – an annual opportunity to raise awareness of caring and salute the contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.

In Scotland alone, there are at least 690,000 carers, a figure that rose to 1.1 million during the pandemic. The value of unpaid care provided by carers to the economy at Scotland reached more than 10 billion a year during the pandemic.

The role of carers is crucial to our society and at Leuchie, we understand that providing a break for people living with conditions like multiple sclerosis, MND, Parkinson’s and the effects of stroke, also offers a vital break from care for the people who support their loved ones on a day-to-day basis.

It is fitting that during Carers Week we are fortunate to be hosting carer John MacDonald, who is having a break at Leuchie alongside his wife of 57 years Margaret, who has been living with Parkinson’s for more than 10 years.

John, 82, told us how he found about Leuchie and what their break has meant to him and Margaret…

“We live in Fort William and a retired nurse in the community suggested we look into some respite care and told us about Leuchie, after hearing from another family, not far from us, who had been to Leuchie and who had absolutely loved it. She gave me some information then I went on the internet to learn more. As soon as I saw Leuchie, I thought it looked perfect, so we decided to go for it.

“We used to go away a couple of holidays a year, based around one of our great interests, Scottish Country Dancing, and it was sad that we had to draw a halt to that. Because of Covid we were unable to go anywhere, but when the restrictions were eased, we thought it was time to give Leuchie House a try. We phoned up and the Bookings Team were excellent in explaining to us about how it worked, the costs involved, and the care that Leuchie could provide for Margaret. It all sounded brilliant. The clinching thing for me was that I could bring her here and stay myself. It’s the perfect replacement for the holidays we went on.

“I am thoroughly enjoying it here, and so is Margaret. It really is excellent. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff team, who are of a really high calibre. The care they provide is first class. They’ve got a great appreciation and understanding of what people need.

“It’s so relaxed and everyone is on first name terms. The atmosphere is lovely and nothing is any bother to the staff. You sometimes wonder where they will draw the line in terms of what they are asked – but I’ve never seen them draw the line on anything!

John outside Leuchie House

“We have all been through some difficult times with Covid, but it’s great that she can now come here and get a rest and some top-class care. The rest is important for me too. I’ve just been able to relax, which has been wonderful. It’s not often I get a chance to sit down and read a book, but I’ve just read one during my time here – cover to cover.

“Being a carer does put a weight on you without a doubt, you are always asking yourself if it’s okay to go and do things like pop into town, because caring for Margaret comes first and I have to make sure she is okay. It can be quite demanding, but you do what you have to do. So, when a chance like this cropped up, it was lovely to be able to get away, get a change of scene, and allow us both to be looked after and relax.

“I also love the grounds. I went out for a stroll in the ground the other day and the next minute this thing flew out the grass - it was a pheasant. I’ve seen hares, deer, squirrels, birds – I thought to myself gee-whiz it’s like Blair Drummond Safari Park here! This is the further East we have been, we had been to Edinburgh, so it’s been amazing to discover how beautiful North Berwick and East Lothian are. We will be back at Leuchie, definitely!”