Elevator gives Edinburgh sheltered housing residents a lift

Mike Cavanagh cuts the ribbon for the new home life. Picture: Contributed

Mike Cavanagh cuts the ribbon for the new home life. Picture: Contributed

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AN Edinburgh housing development has unveiled a modern new lift which will boost the independence of residents as well as accessibility of the building.

Blackwood’s Laura Fergusson Court, a sheltered housing development for those living with disabilities, held a special ribbon-cutting celebration to mark the occasion, and tenant Mike Cavanagh did the honours of declaring the lift officially open.

The new lift is replacing a 40 year old one, which had seen better days and was no longer fit for purpose. This is just one of the upgrades that the development has made to improve the lives of its tenants this year, having unveiled a sleek, newly revamped lounge in February to commemorate its 35th anniversary.

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At Laura Fergusson Court, the emphasis is on tenants being as independent as possible and they are encouraged to undertake all aspects of daily living tasks as best they can. Tenants’ input was an important part of the lounge refurbishment process earlier this year and they were involved in selecting everything from the colour scheme to the curtains.

Jenny Deed, Housing Team Leader, spoke of how the newly installed lift will be hugely beneficial to Laura Fergusson Court.

She said: “We have a lot of tenants with mobility difficulties so the new lift will make a big difference.

“It has been specially designed with coloured panels on the walls, braille buttons and has a much softer landing.

“While we didn’t have any problems with the old lift breaking down, it was due to be renewed. The brand new lift gives us confidence that it will be reliable for tenants for many years.”

Patrick Connolly, Assets Officer for Blackwood added: “The project was completed slightly ahead of schedule. It took a total five and a half weeks to finish the new lift, meaning we could provide tenants with better access quicker.

“Everything went very, very well and the tenants were great. They were very curious; when we took the old lift out they all wanted to look inside the pit to see what it actually looks like.

“The contractor we were working with, Omega, and who actually installed the lift had a very good rapport with the tenants, which of course makes a massive difference and the job much easier.”

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Blackwood has more than 1500 homes throughout the country designed with the latest in bespoke features to help those who are disabled, elderly or with sensory impairments to live more independently.

This includes a range of adaptations from minor alterations such as lowering thresholds between rooms for easier wheelchair access, fitting grab rails and installing easy-to-use lever taps. Bigger projects can include installing wet rooms, level access showers and ‘rise and fall kitchens’ to improve the quality of life of its customers.

As it works in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, it is more widely dispersed than most other care or housing providers and has embraced the challenges of taking housing and care into innovative areas at a time when funding is increasingly limited.

It is renowned for constantly pushing the boundaries of technology to allow property adaptations which make a huge difference to people with disabilities.

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