Moving into a care home gave historically independent Ian Maclachlan a new lease of life. Dan Parton reports.

In this article:

  1. No longer able to cope
  2. New boy
  3. Content

No longer able to cope

Ian Maclachlan had always been an independent sort. The retired army officer admits he’s “basically a loner”, happy in his own company, pursuing his own interests in music and world affairs.

While he may be advancing in years – he is in his 80s – and not as mobile as he once was, he had no thought of leaving his flat and moving into a care home. Indeed, he viewed it as a move that would cost him his independence and doubted he would ‘fit in’ in such a place.

But all this changed after Ian had a fall at home and badly injured his pelvis. “I realised I was completely on my own and I was no longer able to be by myself. I could have lain there for a long time,” he says.

So Ian contacted his lawyer – to whom he had given power of attorney over his financial affairs – and asked her to find him a place in a care home.

His lawyer quickly arranged a meeting for Ian with Fiona Moncur, the manager of Strachan House care home in Edinburgh. “She came out to assess me, whether I would fit in here [at Strachan House] and I assessed whether I would fit in,” Ian says. “The assessment was very good; she asked me a lot of questions and I realised that I was going to be well looked after.”

New boy

Reassured, Ian soon moved into Strachan House where he was instantly made to feel welcome. On the day he arrived there was a complementary bowl of fruit in his room: “It’s only a little thing, but it’s the little touches that matter.”

While the staff were friendly and helpful as Ian began to settle in, he crucially made a friend who was able to show him the ropes: “I was very lucky in finding a person who’d been here for 8 years, who was a university lecturer. I asked him to make sure I didn’t drop any clangers – you know what it’s like when you settle in a new place – he gave me what the form was; do this, or do that, what time to go to breakfast, that sort of thing. I found an adviser and I am now perfectly happy and couldn’t have settled in nicer.”


Ian became a convert to care home living. “When my friends ask what it is like I say ‘this is like a 4-star hotel with nurses and physiotherapists’.

“But the main thing I find is it has a very friendly atmosphere. The staff here are so kind and helpful, which is nice because we’re all old and make little mistakes. The first thing any of the staff will say is ‘no problem, we’ll look after that for you’. Their attitude is ‘don’t worry, we’re here to help’.”

Ian is also able to pursue his interests. He regularly listens to Classic FM and has joined the poetry club at the home. “There are two of us interested in poetry, myself and an ex-lecturer at Edinburgh University. Last time we did 'The Faerie Queene' by Edmund Spenser. We read about the life story of the poet and then some of the poems and we talk about it.”

He also had 'The Times' delivered every day so he can keep up with global events – a legacy of his army days when he travelled all the world.

This interest also gave him something to talk about with care staff at Strachan House. “We have nurses and carers from India, South Africa and the Philippines. I am interested in world politics so I have people I can talk to who are not just from Edinburgh – I have the world here and I can discuss what is happening in their countries with them.”

Ian also benefited from the physiotherapy services available at the home, which he says have helped to improve his mobility.

“When I hear people knocking care homes, I wonder just how much of the world they’ve ever seen. I’m lucky, I’ve been around the world and I’ve seen people in rotten positions and I am so thankful that there is someplace here that looks after me."

“My life is not outside anymore because my wife is dead and I am very happy here because I am well looked after."

“I must sound like a public relations officer, but these are my genuine views, I am content and very happy to be here,” he laughed.