Happy to be going that extra mile

Leuchie House. Picture: Julie Bull
Leuchie House. Picture: Julie Bull
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We pride ourselves on the care we provide, writes Lucy Hyde

THE reputation of Leuchie House relies on the people who work there. People from all over Scotland and further afield who book for caring respite breaks are doing so because of the attitude of staff who pride themselves on making each break an unforgettable experience for guests and their families.

We recently received a wonderful letter from two first-time guests, a husband and wife, who wrote: “I have never experienced an organisation or company whose normal standard showed so much attention to detail and who listened and heard what the person wanted and needed. Every member of staff we encountered during our stay went the extra mile to make us both comfortable and relaxed and confident that we were getting the best of care.”

Last year, Leuchie House provided 6,279 days of respite. These are desperately needed breaks from the rigours of living with long-term degenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and Huntington’s.

Leuchie is not like other care providers, though. It is as far from a purpose-built medical establishment as you could imagine. Set in a beautiful 18th-century country house in the rolling countryside of coastal East Lothian, the fully accessible house and grounds offers expert nursing care in a non-clinical environment.

Modelled on quality country house hotels and with the backing of some of Scotland’s top tourism destinations, Leuchie offers a full holiday experience as well as expert medical care. Guests are offered a full programme of trips, activities and outings, as well as on-site physiotherapy and a range of complementary therapies.

The emphasis is very much on the social side of the breaks and for many of the guests, this is crucial as their options for socialising may have been reduced as their condition progresses, leaving them increasingly isolated.

For recruitment purposes, this leaves Leuchie in a field on its own. The independent charity is held up as a true example of the Scottish Government’s agenda on the integration of health and social care. But this dual role calls for exceptional staff – which is why we go out of our way to recruit people like Lorena Brown.

Lorena first came to Leuchie on a six-week work placement in 2009 from her Napier University nurse training. She came back in 2010 for management training before graduating the same year and returning as a care assistant before she started working as a registered nurse.

After working her way up to her current role as charge nurse and acting clinical nurse manager, Lorena has now come full-circle as she prepares to mentor students from Napier University at Leuchie.

She said: “I would love it if any of my students chose to come and work at Leuchie House. It’s so different to working on a ward. One of the main reasons I love working here is that you get to build up a rapport with the guests, especially the ones who come back again and again.

“There is time to get to know them and you see what a difference their break at Leuchie makes to them. Many of our guests can’t get out at all when they’re at home, but we are able to take them on trips when they’re here, which is great for us as well as seeing how much they enjoy it – it is so rewarding.

“The staff here are all great too. It’s a perfect place for students to come as there’s so much to learn because we have guests with so many different conditions.”

These are challenging times for any business in terms of recruitment, but for some third-sector organisations, and particularly, perhaps, those in the healthcare sector, there are additional obstacles to overcome before we can get high-quality staff in the door. Recruitment is tough across the nursing sector at the moment, but Leuchie has so much to offer both new and experienced nurses. Not only is it innovative in terms of the integration of health and social care, it is an area that will grow significantly as the population ages.

But it is a demonstration of the ethos and atmosphere of Leuchie that as soon as people are through the door, they immediately realise what makes us different.

The guest is at the centre of everything we do and, while job descriptions and roles are clear-cut, we are one big team which really knows how to welcome a new face.

• Lucy Hyde is HR manager at Leuchie House, www.leuchiehouse.org.uk

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