‘From darkness to light'
Published: Thursday, 21 December 2023
The incredible difference being made behind closed doors at Blantyre LIFE
The remarkable work within an award-winning care campus has been brought into sharp focus this Christmas – through the poignant story of one resident.
Ann Burns says she has been "brought into the light" after moving into the technology-enabled community at the Blantyre LIFE care campus earlier this year.
The former foster carer and psychiatric nurse says her life was taken to the darkest of places over the last decade following shattering personal adversity. This included two strokes, two heart attacks and the death of her husband, Billy, last October.
“This will be the first Christmas in years I’ve been at peace in my heart and in my mind – and it’s thanks to the staff here,” said Ann.
“Looking back, I’d become confined not only to the house but spent most of my life on the couch because of mobility issues (following strokes). With that physical confinement, I was spending all the time within my own head and got to the stage even if I was able I didn’t want to go out.
“I’d gone from such an active life, from working and caring for people, to such a terribly dark, isolated place. I was lonely and in complete and constant despair. I couldn’t see a way forward,” says Ann.
“Coming here has been like stepping into the light.”
Blantyre LIFE housing and care campus champions the ‘home first’ principle, with an emphasis on enabling more people to live as independently as possible within their own homes.
It combines a 20-bedded intermediate care facility and 20 new technology-enabled properties – of which Ann is a community member.
All homes are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to support independent living.
The tech-enabled houses are designed to be fully accessible, making it easy for Ann to move around.
“The facility is fantastic in itself and has enabled me to regain a sense of being able to do things for myself again. That, in turn, has alleviated a lot of pressure and worry from my sister, Mary, who has helped care for me.
“It has felt like ‘a new lease of life’ – but in a very gradual sense. I’ve slowly started to reconnect with people through the many activities here, from the Yoga classes to the recent visit of school children who came to sing Christmas carols for us.
“It sounds like a daft wee thing, but I’m loving being able to have a blether with people again.”
Ann added: “Between my role as a foster carer and working in healthcare, my life often crossed the paths of other people’s when they were at their most vulnerable points.
“Coming here has seen that reversed. Everything that, I hope, I offered to others – like compassion, care, and hope - has been given to me in abundance here.
“The facility is, of course, incredible – and while it feels wrong to say it’s just ‘bricks and mortar,’ without the health and social care staff, it would be. They are phenomenal. They are this place’s beating heart – and they’ll always have a place in mine.”
Professor Soumen Sengupta, Chief Officer of South Lanarkshire University Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Ann’s experience really brings to life our ambitions for adopting new ways of working and fostering innovation to improve people’s lives across South Lanarkshire. I also really appreciate Ann’s enthusiasm for opening her heart and sharing her story with us all – particularly as it illuminates the professionalism and the commitment of our staff to making a difference, day in and day out.”
Professor Sengupta added: “These are extremely challenging times for health and social care, locally and across Scotland. Blantyre LIFE, and our commitment to the home-first approach, is one example of how increasingly sophisticated care is being delivered, compassionately, in the heart of our communities.”
Find out how South Lanarkshire University Health and Social Care Partnership are providing tomorrow’s world support – today. You can watch our short film providing a unique glimpse into what Blantyre LIFE is and why it has been created, by visiting: https://vimeo.com/836469173