Leuchie calls for A Break from the Past

Leuchie House is calling on candidates for next month’s Scottish Parliament election to support greater access to respite care for the millions of Scots who need it.

Launching its pre-election manifesto, A Break from the Past, the East Lothian based charity has asked prospective MSPs to back its call for more short break care for the two million people with a long term condition and the 790,000 people who care for them.

Short respite breaks are now widely regarded as essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of people living with long term degenerative conditions and their carers. Yet Scottish Government figures show the number of respite weeks delivered in 2013/2014 fell by 2,390 weeks compared with 2012/13, and fell by an additional 2,040-6,630 weeks in 2014/15 (lower and higher estimates)1. There are also marked differences across the country in the availability of short breaks.

Leuchie’s CEO Mairi O’Keefe explains: “Every day at Leuchie we see the enormous benefits that a respite break can bring to someone living with a condition like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. These breaks can increase their independence and confidence, help to reduce isolation and have a tangible positive impact on wellbeing and the ability to cope with the physical and mental symptoms of the condition. At the same time, their unpaid carers get a break from their caring responsibilities and the demands and stresses that a 24/7 caring role brings.

“Yet access to respite breaks is severely limited and often has to be fought for, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. At Leuchie House, we believe that everyone with a long term degenerative condition should have automatic access to regular short respite breaks and that their carers should have regular breaks from caring.” 

The charity’s manifesto also calls for a range of other policy changes to improve the position of disabled people and their carers, including:

Support and therapy services to be available across Scotland to people living with long term conditions to improve their quality of life and give them ongoing advice and support;
Greater availability of affordable and accessible demand responsive transport for disabled people;
For the Carers’ Allowance to be raised to the same level as Jobseekers’ Allowance on the establishment of the new Scottish welfare agency to help reduce financial hardship.
For carers to have access to regular health-checks and ongoing training and advice to help them in their role.

Leuchie House’s manifesto, A Break from the Past, can be downloaded at www.leuchiehouse.org.uk or phone 01620 892864 for a print copy.

Donald and Catriona’s story

“My husband Donald suffered a severe stroke four years ago. Since then our daily routines have changed beyond all recognition and I have now become a full time carer. I do not for one minute begrudge looking afer Donald, but I now know first-hand how stressful the physical and emotional demands of this role can be - and incredibly lonely. For people like myself caring for someone with a long term condition, all we want is to get on with our lives as best as we can. To do that without getting to the stage where we are too worn out to continue caring, it is vital that we get a break safe in the knowledge that our partner is being well cared for. If it were not for Leuchie I’d be at my wits’ end.”