MS respite care centre to close

Image caption, Leuchie House offers respite care for people with multiple sclerosis

Scotland's only respite care centre for people with multiple sclerosis is to close later this year.

The decision to shut Leuchie House near North Berwick was taken following an 18-month review to assess whether it met the needs of those living with MS.

The MS Society chief executive, Simon Gillespie, delivered the news to the 85 staff, at a meeting earlier.

The MS Society has used Leuchie House as a respite centre since 1998.

Leuchie House was originally run by the Servite Sisters, under the name the Richard Cave Holiday Home, before it was handed over to the MS Society.

'Invaluable facility'

The centre offers day care and holidays for people with MS and their families.

Mr Gillespie told BBC Scotland that the society would be working directly with anyone affected by the closure to make sure that there were other options for them.

He added: "The whole point about the review, and what people were telling us loud and clear during the course of this review, is that they wanted the opportunity to exercise choice, and we want to work with them as individuals to make sure they can do so."

But Elizabeth Vokurka, from East Linton in East Lothian, who has MS, said: "The decision to close Leuchie House is a huge loss.

"A facility such as this is invaluable to people - both carers and the people who suffer from MS and who are significantly affected by the condition."

Mike Abbott, 62, from Glasgow, cares for his 58-year-old wife Margaret. She was diagnosed with MS more than 20 years ago.

He said: "This is a big blow for us. My wife goes to Leuchie House twice a year for two weeks at a time.

"This is the only place in Scotland that deals with MS and it really gives her a break, she has made many friends there over the years."

"For myself as a carer, it just gives you a break and you're free to do you're own thing and that is important - I can do the things I can't do at home as you're on the clock all the time."

He added: "What are MS sufferers in Scotland going to do now? It is a real problem and I don't know how they are going to reconcile it."

When the home was run by nuns Thea Lyst, 67, stayed there three times with her sister Kay Donald, who had MS, having travelled up from the north east of England.

"It's very sad to hear it's closing down," Mrs Lyst said.

"It will be a big loss as these places are hard to find - somewhere where both the carers and those with MS get a break.

"Sometimes the carers were taken on days out and it was nice to know the people with MS were being looked after by someone who understood the illness.

"The atmosphere was wonderful. It was just a very peaceful place, very relaxing and with wonderful care and facilities."

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