Seasonal effects

Just when is it acceptable to put Christmas cards on sale?

That was the dilemma in the Leuchie office in August when our first collection of Leuchie-branded Christmas cards arrived. Although our instinct was to start selling them immediately, we knew that it would be more socially acceptable to leave it a few weeks.

It’s fascinating how governed by the seasons we are. Even with the vagaries of the weather these days when it can be like winter in June and summer in March, and holidays in the sun happen all year round, we still compartmentalise our lives by the stage of the year.  For many of us autumn is heralded not just by the darker nights but by the schools going back and the return of Strictly and the Bake Off. It’s only when these things happen that we feel mentally ready to move on to the next season.

For many of our guests at Leuchie, the move from summer into autumn can be the start of a low point in the year. As the nights draw in and the days get shorter, social isolation can be a real issue if you have a long term health condition. If you live on your own and rely on carers coming in to help you, you’re unlikely to see anyone between one care visit at tea time and the next at breakfast time. That’s why respite breaks like those at Leuchie are such a lifeline. Having company around you, social activities going on, and simply being able to choose for yourself when you get ready for bed can be an enormous boost for our guests.

The annual Scottish Health Survey published this week revealed that 50% of Scotland’s population have at least one long term condition. That’s a staggering figure that reinforces more than ever how important respite breaks are and why more people should be able to access them. Thanks to support from local MSP Iain Gray we’re looking forward to a debate in the Scottish Parliament on this issue shortly.

In the meantime, now that’s Strictly’s back, if your thoughts are turning to buying your Christmas cards, you’ll find a lovely Leuchie collection at www.leuchiehouse.org.uk!

Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in the East Lothian Courier 29 September 2016.