Transforming Lives and Homes Across Scotland

by Heather Peebles

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Simon_FitzpatrickExperts are investing over £400,000 to adapt homes across Scotland to help transform the lives of people with disabilities and other special needs.

Housing and care specialist Blackwood is recognised as Scotland’s leading expert in such adaptations and will carry out the upgrades at properties as part of a year-long Scotland-wide programme.

It has been awarded more than £403,000 from the Scottish Government to fund the pipeline of vital work, making changes which dramatically improve the quality of live for those involved.

Simon Fitzpatrick, 37, Property Investment Manager with Blackwood, said: “Every project is bespoke and tailored exactly to the needs of the person living in the property.

“The differences it can make to someone’s quality of life is immeasurable. It is incredibly rewarding to be in a position to make changes that have such a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The scale of the adaptations vary dramatically. Blackwood started 2014 by completing a 14-week, six-figure transformation of a home in West Lothian for the family of a severely disabled man.

That involved building an extension to the four-bedroom home, with a purpose-built bathroom and specialist track and hoist gear to allow the man to be easily lifted and moved from room-to-room.

Simon added: “That wasn’t just transformational for the man, but for his entire family. However, not all adaptations are that extensive and even small changes can be life changing for those involved.

“Simple changes to a bathroom can allow someone the dignity of being able to shower unassisted. Making a kitchen more accessible can allow someone to make themselves a cup of tea for the first time. We’ve had people delighted because our changes allow them open a window without help.

“These seem like small things that most of us take for granted, but mean an awful lot to the people who are benefitting and dramatically improve their quality of life.”

Typical projects this year will 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. Projects normally range in value from £500 to £20,000.

Simon added: “We are recognised for our expertise in this area and that is why we received the second biggest Scottish Government grant of this type, despite being small as a social landlord.

“We are always pleased to get this government funding as we have no trouble at all investing it to help people life a fuller life in their own homes.  This benefits the individual and their family and in the long term is far more cost effective than paying for 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.

Striving to do whatever it takes to provide tailored care, Blackwood provides 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.

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.

In addition to Government-funded major projects, Blackwood 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 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.”

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood PR. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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