James’s story

Full-time carer James, who has regular breaks at Leuchie House with his wife Elizabeth, explains why he thinks these breaks are essential for unpaid carers like him.

“For five years, I have been the main carer for my wife Elizabeth who has frontotemporal dementia and takes occasional epileptic seizures. She is a full-time wheelchair user and unable to communicate or feed herself, and so needs 24 hour care, 7 days a week.

On a daily basis my caring role involves preparing meals, feeding and administering medication, as well as carrying out the household chores. Since my wife had a fall and broke her hip in 2012, the local council has helped with her personal care support.

Respite breaks are very important to me.  As a full-time carer with a 24/7 role, you need regular breaks to recharge your batteries.  My wife also needs a change of environment and additional social interaction.

Getting the right kind of respite and care is essential. It’s about both the quality of the break and the expertise of the care. Without Leuchie House, the only option for my wife would be a respite break in a care home, where they’re just not geared up to providing the stimulus and support a dedicated respite centre can offer. People with long term conditions need something better than just respite in a care home.  At Leuchie, I can be confident too that if my wife has a seizure, the staff are fully trained to give emergency seizure medication. Other respite organisations I’ve used previously were unable to guarantee that their staff would be seizure trained.

The quality of respite also applies to how you’re able to use it and whether it gives you a proper break.

I have two half days a week of what I call “working respite”. I mainly use this for shopping, medical appointments, meetings and generally catching up.

Then every three months or so my wife and I have eleven days of proper quality respite at Leuchie House.

While carers can choose not to go with their loved ones to Leuchie – all the caring is done for you - I like to accompany my wife as this allows us to have our meals and some time together. But it also gives me the flexibility to go off to pursue my own interests knowing that she will be properly looked after.

When at Leuchie, Elizabeth seems to be more relaxed, and particularly enjoys the food and the musical entertainment. I feel very relaxed too and able to do things such as reading and walking that I would not have been able to do at home.”