Family See Home Transformed for New Year

by Melissa Clark

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Blackwood New HomesA severely disabled young man and his family will start 2014 in a dream new home after housing and care specialists masterminded a dramatic revamp of their property.

A significant resource has been spent to transform the family’s home in West Lothian, where they have lived for many years, while facing increasing challenges in relation to their space as their disabled son reached adulthood.

Now experts with Blackwood – recognised as Scotland’s leading experts in property adaptations to help those with disabilities live life to the full – have completed the 14 week project.

Simon Fitzpatrick, 37, Property Investment Manager with Blackwood, said: “The difference this will make to this family’s quality of life is immeasurable.

“One of the reasons I came to work with Blackwood was that it is incredibly rewarding to be in a position to help make changes that can have such a beneficial impact on lives.

“It is fantastic that they will be starting 2014 back in their own home. This is a great example of where Scottish Government grants really help keep someone in their own home rather than in expensive care accommodation.”

Blackwood has a heritage in both housing and care, integrating those two services to meet modern demands. That means a streamlined service which addresses care requirements at the same time as finding a user the ideal home.

In the case of the West Lothian family, a number of years had been spent trying to source an alternative home of suitable size, either within Blackwood’s property stock or from other Housing Associations.

Mr Fitzpatrick added: “As the young man’s needs became increasingly complex it became absolutely apparent that the only option was major adaptation work to their existing home.”

The changes included adding a large extension to the existing four-bedroom property, creating a new bedroom, kitchen and bathroom area for the young man and his family and carers.

Major innovations included the addition of a highly specialised bath as well as sophisticated hoist and track equipment, that allows the young man to be easily and comfortably moved from room to room

Blackwood’s aim is to do whatever it takes to provide care and support that lets people make their own choices and have control over their lives in accommodation that meets their needs. As a result it has an outstanding record of adapting properties to make them accessible.

Despite being relatively small in terms of Scottish social landlords, Blackwood received the second biggest grant from the Scottish Government to fund its pipeline of vital adaptation work.

As well as the funding for the West Lothian project, it was awarded a further £403,000 for 2013-14 which will see it complete around 150 major adaptations, ranging in cost from £500 to £20,000.

Since people who use Blackwood’s services include older people, those with physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues or sensory impairment, even small adaptations can deliver significant quality of life improvements.

Typical projects include creating wet rooms, installing level access showers, fitting toilets which also provide washing and drying facilities, installing push-pad door opening systems and also fitting “rise and fall” kitchens, where worktops will lower at the touch of a button.

In addition to Government-funded major projects, Blackwood front funds more than 300 minor adaptations every year, which include lowering the thresholds between rooms for easier wheelchair access, fitting grab rails and installing easy-to-use lever taps.

Simon added: “We have an excellent reputation in adapting homes to meet the needs of users, but we will continue to evolve. For instance, Blackwood was heavily involved in designing the rise and fall kitchen concept.

“As well as making a kitchen usable by people with and without disabilities, what users love is the fact that they are extremely well designed. That is now a crucial factor as people no longer expect adaptations that make their homes look like hospitals.

“We will increasingly be looking at ways to incorporate products and solutions that are not only practical, but incorporate excellent design.”

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