The Blackwood House: a closer look at futuristic accessibility

You may have read in last week’s bespoken bulletin about the grand unveiling of Blackwood’s new accessible homes in Dundee. The flats are designed to be beautiful, accessible, affordable and connected for maximum independence. Although designed primarily to be lived in by someone with a disability, the adaptations were carefully designed and installed to make away as much as possible with the old fashioned “clinical” look and create a beautiful home to live in. “Futuristic”, is the word that was used to sum up the home by the tenant who has now moved in. The design of the flat runs in a circle so that you can literally walk around the house from one room into the next. Taking you on a journey through the flat, here are some of the key adaptations that make the home accessible.

 

Through the front door and into the hall

 

The main door is automated and opens using a key card. Once the system recognises the card, the door swings open by itself and after a pause to let you in, it closes behind you. The door entry system is equipped with a camera too so the person at home can view who is at the door via a small screen in the hall then push a button to let them in. The lights in the hall switch on automatically as the door opens and closes for better visibility.

 

Continuing into the lounge

It’s in the lounge that you will first see the remote-controlled blinds that are fitted throughout the flat and are operated from either a remote, for individual blinds, or from a tablet from which you can raise or lower all the blinds in the flat in one movement. The space in the lounge, as with the rest of the home, was generously calculated to give ample turning space for a wheelchair user. The TV unit has cupboard doors that pop open with an easy nudge, so people with poor dexterity and grip can manage them better.

Right next to the lounge is an area that provides ample space for dining.

The Kitchen

Along with the bathroom (which we’ll cover below), the kitchen is without doubt the room which has the most interesting accessibility features of the flat. Again, the space was calculated for easy manoeuvring and rise and fall surfaces make it easier for a wheelchair user to use the sink and the stove. A rise and fall cupboard can be lowered electronically from the wall to be at a suitable height for a wheelchair user to reach inside it. The other advantage of the rise and fall units is that they can be used at a suitable height by other people in the home who do not have a disability.

The hob is an induction one, meaning there’s less chance of burns. The oven door (and this was following a bespoken member’s recommendation) opens and slides in under it so a wheelchair user can more easily reach into the oven. The door, when left open can also be used to rest hot dishes on.

One of the big talking points in the kitchen is the washing machine that washes, dries and irons clothes. Pictured (looking more like a strange futuristic fridge than a conventional washing machine) is the final working prototype before the real thing arrives in a few weeks.

The bedroom

The accessibility in this room is less about hi-tech gadgets and more to do with simple adjustments. The space, once again, can comfortably accommodate wheelchair turns. The bed is at a low level for easier transfer. The cupboards pop open with a nudge, like in the living room, and have low fitted rails for reaching clothes more easily. A low-level light next to the bed activates with motion and sends a guiding light towards the bathroom door for guidance during the night. One vital feature of this room, which is found throughout the house, is the inside doors that slide open and close, gliding automatically in and out of the wall at the push of a button. Every door is equipped with a sensor to stop it closing on anyone still in the doorway.

The Bathroom

Virtually everything you see in the bathroom has been fitted with accessibility in mind. This has been done to the maximum extent without giving the flat a medical look and preserving that elegant style throughout. The shower and sink are by Pressalit. They both slide along sideways as well as up and down to suit the user. The doors on the shower mean that a carer can shower a person without getting their legs wet, but it can also be used independently. The toilet is a Geberit that has a water spray to clean the user and then air (with temperature controls) to dry. There’s even a remote control attached to the toilet so it can be operated from outside by a carer, giving the user more privacy and dignity.

 

The study

Another sliding automatic door glides into the wall and brings you in from the bedroom to the study area. This can also be a 2nd bedroom with a single bed for someone staying over. There are wardrobes with sliding doors that can be used for additional storage.

 

Passing through the study you find yourself back in the hallway next to the front door which pretty much brings our tour to its conclusion.

 

But don’t forget…

One last and vital point about the new Blackwood homes is that they are all equipped with CleverCogs™, our very own digitally enhanced care system. This enables the tenant to stay connected to people at the touch of a button and even have video calls with carers if they choose. Home automation features have also been installed on each personal device so it can do things like turn the lights on and off around the house. 

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absolutely beautiful, well thought out and equipped with everything to make independent living more readily available. I hope the new tenants enjoy their new homes for many years.

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