Homing in on Dundee’s independent living
Pioneering homes aim to transform the lives of people with disabilities
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction.
A washing machine that cleans and irons clothes, kitchen units that lower at the touch of a button and blinds that automatically open and close to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep.
But these state of the art features are all very real aspects of six pioneering homes that were launched in Dundee yesterday to help transform the lives of people with disabilities.
Housing and care provider Blackwood has designed six houses which set a new standard of accessibility, with the help of technology and modern construction.
Blackwood chairman Max Brown welcomed Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to the official opening of the new Blackwood House development off Glamis Road.
It is a design blueprint for flexible living which Edinburgh-based Blackwood plans to roll out in increasing numbers across Scotland.
Councillor Ken Lynn, chairman of Dundee’s Health and Social Care Partnership, was also present to welcome the contribution that these homes make to the city’s new plans to help people live independently.
Mr Stewart said: “I’m delighted to open this development of accessible and connected homes in Dundee.
“This new housing development supports the government’s ambition set out in A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – our Disability Delivery Plan, that disabled people in Scotland should live life to the full in homes built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.
“The Blackwood House is also a great example of how suitable housing can contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes both for the people who live there and more widely for the local health and social care partnership.
“Most importantly, they provide safe and affordable homes for the tenants, to enable them to live independently.”
Fanchea Kelly, chief executive at Blackwood, said it was a first demonstration of what great design can do to improve health and ultimately change lives.
She said: “We believe that these beautiful, highly accessible and affordable homes will enhance the lives of our new tenants.
“Technology has an increasingly vital part to play in the way homes are designed for people with varying levels of disability and we’re excited to put this new standard for accessibility into practice in Dundee.
“The Scottish Government has brought health and social care services together in every area of Scotland and through the Blackwood House we offer a bespoke, modern example of what independent living should look like.”
The project was an example of joint commissioning between Dundee City Council, Dundee’s Health and Social Care Partnership and the Scottish Government. The team worked with CCG as developer, Blackwood’s own staff and customers, and technology partners, with funding provided by Triodos Bank.
Blackwood is now in discussion with several other local authority areas to roll out similar schemes elsewhere.
Technology has an increasingly vital part to play in the way homes are designed for people with varying levelsof disability. BLACKWOOD CHIEF EXECUTIVE FANCHEA KELLY
Surely even George Orwell couldn’t have imagined how true his dystopian novel, 1984, would become.
While we really do live in a world where Big Brother is watching us, tracking our movements covertly and overtly, not all technology is sinister.
The digital revolution has changed the world in many very good ways.
One such advancement was outlined yesterday, a fitting example of technology and physical design working together to create a better world.
While it sounds like science fiction, it’s very real. There really is a washing machine that can clean and iron clothes, kitchen units that can lower on demand, and blinds that can anticipate our needs for light.
All this and more adds up to independence and a good quality of life for people with disabilities, mobility issues, or elderly people wanting to enjoy a self-sufficient life in their own homes.
The six homes unveiled yesterday really are a blueprint for an accessible future, and they are adapatable too, able to incorporate specific and changing needs.
They are also affordable, putting them in reach of the people who really need them.
Perhaps even Dr Margaret Blackwood herself could not have imagined these homes, but the tireless campaigner for the rights of the disabled to independent living would most certainly approve.
Colin Foskett, head of innovation for the CleverCogs app which controls functions. Our reporter Michael, top, and Blackwood business manager Elaine Rosie, above.