Innovative care providers who help to improve the lives of disabled people held its hi-tech AGM this week to resounding success, at the Glasgow Science Centre.
Guests were treated to a showcase of antiquated wheelchairs, the latest in sport chair design and cutting edge exoskeleton technology.
Housing and care specialists, Blackwood, also unveiled a film tribute dedicated to its founder and disability campaigner Dr Margaret Blackwood, whose pioneering work 30 years ago set the pace for improvements across Scotland.
Bailie Anne Simpson, who was the guest of honour for the day, was thrilled at the success of the event.
She said: “It was a fantastic event – all clients and staff were extremely hospitable throughout the whole day.
“I was very impressed by Blackwood’s ethos, and how it is striving for independent living for its clients.
“I’m also very proud to be a part of their push for innovation within the care industry.”
The unanimous highlight of the event was the incredible Exoskeleton technology on display – nicknamed “Rex” – which is the first hands-free, self-supporting, independently controlled robotic walking device.
As well as the various displays there was also a range of interactive ‘drop in’ style stalls hosted by Blackwood staff so that tenants and guests were able to discuss a range of issues that affect them.
The Blackwood Foundation also exhibited an ‘Innovation Zone’ which demonstrated how technology really can help people live more independently through digital inclusion, SMARTCare and Telecare technology.
Fanchea Kelly, who took over as Chief Executive at Blackwood a year ago, said: “Technology it is at the heart of everything we do helping people with disabilities to live the most independent lives possible so where better to celebrate that?
“The Glasgow Science Centre is where children and adults alike go to learn about the breakthroughs in science which have changed all of our lives. It was therefore a fitting place for us to celebrate the achievements of Margaret Blackwood, the woman who gave our organisation its DNA.
Stephen Gallagher, Chair of Blackwood, continues the sentiment and said: “It reminds us how far ahead of her time she was. The changes she campaigned for may seem commonplace now, but that just underlines that we are now striving to bring in changes which will shape the landscape for the next 30 years.”
Designed to echo the themes of the Scottish Social Housing Charter that Blackwood will return in October 2014, visitors were able to talk directly to members of the Blackwood team on matters including value for rent, housing maintenance and access to housing support.
Colleen Robertson, Communications and Marketing Manager for Blackwood, said: “As well as creating a fun day out for our guests we also ensured that our tenants had the opportunity to come and talk to us about issues close to their heart.
“It’s an exciting time for us with our recent office move and the launch of our unique social media platform – www.bespoken.me – so we wanted to get feedback on how this has benefited our tenants and what improvements can be made.
“We very much see ourselves as being at the forefront of the housing and care sector but to remain there it’s vital that we listen to the ever evolving needs of our tenants to help shape our future and the AGM was the perfect platform to do just that.”
Headquartered in state of the art, wheelchair friendly offices in Edinburgh, Blackwood has over 350 staff throughout the country and a range of properties kitted out with the latest in bespoke features to help make the lives of its disabled customers easier.
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.
Working in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, Blackwood is more widely dispersed than any other care or housing provider and has embraced the challenges of taking housing and care into innovative areas at a time when funding is increasingly limited.
With over 1600 homes throughout the country it is a leader in helping those who are disabled, elderly or living with sensory impairments live more independently.
Find out more about Blackwood at www.blackwoodgroup.org.uk