Looking forward to extending the Leuchie effect

You can’t look back without looking forward. That’s been a common thread in my thoughts over the past couple of weeks.

As part of the process of announcing my retirement, as you’d expect I’ve been sharing the news with all the many types of people connected with Leuchie House, and have taken part in several media interviews.

In talking about how far Leuchie has come and what we’ve achieved, it’s inevitable that my thoughts have also repeatedly turned to what I haven’t managed to achieve.

Probably the biggest thing for me is that we still have only one Leuchie House in Scotland. I’ve made no secret over the years that I believe the Leuchie model should be replicated at least in Glasgow, in Aberdeen and in Inverness.

I have spoken many times in this column about the enormous difference quality respite breaks make, both to people living with long term conditions and those who look after them.  I fully believe that everyone who needs access to respite should be able to have it. Yet we continue to see wide variations in the level of support and funding available to people, depending on where they live.  That just shouldn’t happen.

As I write we are waiting for publication of Scotland’s first ever National Action Plan on Neurological Conditions. Another trailblazing, and much anticipated, piece of Scottish public policy, the plan promises to pave the way for people with neurological conditions to get access to the care, support and services they need.

It’ll come as no surprise to you that I think the Leuchie model is a natural solution to support the delivery and implementation of many aspects of a neurological plan. Our expertise and experience working with people with all kinds of conditions, helping improve their health and wellbeing, could be harnessed and rolled out across the country.

We’ll see where Leuchie House fits in Scotland’s new vision for neurological conditions when the plan is published. I do hope it’s a launch pad that could take the Leuchie effect to many more people around the country. That really would be something to look forward to.

Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier on Thursday 11 October 2018.