In the heart of the village of Lundin Links, there’s a new facility unlike any other in Scotland.
It’s a haven for those who need it most, and is the lasting legacy of a local resident committed to the cause.
Upon her death in 1993, Isobel Paxton bequeathed her home - Homelands - to the MS Society with the wish that it be used as a holiday home for those suffering not just from MS, but a whole range of disabling conditions.
In 1998, the Homelands Trust-Fife was set up to carry out those wishes, and while the original building was deemed unsuitable for the specific needs of those who would be using it, the decision was taken to demolish it and build four accessible self catering cottages in its place.
In July 2013, Sir Menzies Campbell, a patron of Homelands, cut the first sod and building work commenced. And just 14 months later, the cottages and Paxton Information Centre - dedicated to the woman who had made the whole thing possible - were opened to the public.
For Jan Kerr, one of the trustees, it was a moment she had waited for for a number of years: “It’s fantastic to see our dream realised after such a long journey. It’s been tough at times but extremely worthwhile when you see guests having a holiday that truly meets their needs.
“We are thrilled with the end product, which is of a very high quality.
“The builders, Campion Homes, have done a great job and everyone who visits, whether for a break or just to see round, is very complimentary about the finish.”
The four cottages are completely accessible with tracking hoists and grab rails. For some people with a long-lasting condition, it is the perfect alternative to respite.
Dave Paton, development coordinator, explained: “The Self Directed Support Agenda (brought in in 2014 and implemented by Social Work Services and the NHS) means an assessment will be carried out, and an annual allocation of respite days or annual budget decided. A person can decide to use those days in a respite care facility, or they can opt to organise something like this for themselves.
“It gives people more choice and more control of their own care, and can be a real benefit to people who want to make their own decisions. If you take into account that caring for someone in a care home could cost anything between £1500-800, and you can spend a week at Homelands for as little as £330, it’s a brilliant alternative.”
Each cottage on the site sleeps between four-six people, with one larger cottage able to accommodate seven-eight.
“For some, they might come along with their family, as it can be quite tramautic being seperated from them. For others, they need that break, so they will come with a carer or personal assistant. And although we don’t provide personal care ourselves, we have excellent connections with local care organisations in the area which we can signpost people to.”