We need mavericks to change the system

By June 13, 2016Indigo, Public Affairs

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(L-R) Laura, Gordon and Colin McFarlane

It was like the flicking of a switch. My Dad was rushed to hospital in July 2015 after suffering a massive stroke and I knew things were never going to be the same.  At the forefront of my mind was the worry of whether he’d make it through the night, but at the back of my mind was the thought of having to plan for the future and navigate a health and social care system which is not always responsive to the needs of individuals and their families.

My Dad and his doctors fought bravely against the effects of the stroke and in the background the family tried to work with the system to find the right care and support to aid his recovery.

My Dad is 61 – he’s not an old man, so why does the system think it’s appropriate to place him in an elderly care home?  The same type of home filled with people twenty or thirty years older than him. My Dad isn’t frail, he isn’t elderly and he doesn’t suffer from dementia, so why would we put him in a care home?

When faced with an extremely difficult situation, the easiest decision is to listen to the voices of the system – travel the path of least resistance.

But I know that wasn’t the right path to travel.  My Dad needs socialisation, stimulation and physical rehabilitation.  For all the excellent work that elderly care homes do, they aren’t appropriate for younger adults and yet they have to provide that type of care because there is no other alternative.  People with neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries deserve much better care than the current system can offer.

So I took the decision to challenge the doctors’ advice and they eventually relented and agreed that my Dad would best be served by returning home with a tailored care package in place to cope with his complex needs.

We set about re-developing our house with the support of architects and building professionals.  We had to raise the finance which wasn’t easy but with the love and support of friends and family we managed to raise over £20,000 in a matter of weeks.  Not every family has the ability or the capacity to raise the kind of sums involved to do this and not every family has the fight or the strength to take on a system which appears intent on putting up barriers along the way.  This is where we need mavericks to change the system for the benefit of all.

The barriers still exist but we are steadily breaking them down one by one.  It’ll take weeks to develop plans for an extension, it’ll take months to obtain planning permission and building warrants, it’ll take weeks to build and it’ll take even longer to raise the money needed to pay for it all.  While this all goes on there is added pressure knowing my Dad is lying in a hospital bed whittling away the time by staring at the ceiling.  Who knows what this is doing to his physical and mental wellbeing.
Scotland needs a new approach to the care of people with neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries and it needs it now.  I’m backing the Sue Ryder ‘Rewrite the Future’ campaign and I hope MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will make supporting people like my Dad a national priority.  We can do so much better.  We have to.

Colin McFarlane

Senior Account Manager, Indigo


This month voters in the UK will go to the polls to decide whether we, as a country, prefer to stand alone outside the European or continue to try to lead the international agenda from within it.

In the run-up to the referendum we will be posting a series of blogs, client stories and interviews from across Indigo’s networks, taking a sideways look at whether we can balance the advantages of strong networks against the freedom to stand out from the crowd.

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You can find out more about the Sue Ryder campaign and help raise money for Colin’s dad at: