Trustee helps disabled tenants

Trustee helps disabled tenants

Supported housing tenants across Newcastle are set to benefit from sensitively adapted properties following advice from one charity’s tenant trustee.

Leazes Homes, an affordable housing provider with over 500 properties in Newcastle, has a number of existing developments specifically designed for those with disabilities as well as older people who may have mobility issues.

The charity appointed its first tenant Board Member, Claire Rabbetts, earlier this year after offering all tenants the opportunity to apply for the position. Claire, who has physical disabilities herself and uses an electric wheelchair, wanted to give a stronger voice to disabled tenants.

Once Claire learned about the supported accommodation Leazes Homes has contracted construction specialist, Keepmoat to develop in Throckley and Dinnington, she was keen to influence adaptations to the properties from the outset.

Claire suggested it would be beneficial to meet up with representatives from Keepmoat so she could explain how some design elements can affect disabled tenants and the firm was more than happy to oblige.

Claire said: “Leazes Homes is committed to creating good quality, affordable housing for those who need it most and we have a strong record of meeting very specific needs. We know that Keepmoat are as dedicated as us to ensuring comfort and safety for all residents and they have worked on some truly fantastic developments with us in the past.

“I was aware that Keepmoat follow strict guidance around making properties accessible for those with disabilities of course, but I wanted to meet them early in the build process so we could go a bit further than national standards require.

“As a wheelchair user, I am able to offer some very specific insights and practical advice that could benefit many of our tenants in future. And, as a trustee, I recognise the importance of factoring adaptations in from the start, in order to get the best value for money.

“The representative from Keepmoat was extremely attentive and took on board all of my points concerning lighting and the positioning of features and equipment. I look forward to seeing my suggestions being put in place over the coming months.”

Claire was joined by Leazes Homes’ managing director, Jon Mitford, and Simon Williams from Keepmoat, who discussed various design aspects with her, including the need for additional lighting and light switches, adapted bench areas in kitchens, and repositioning of bathroom furniture.

This will be factored in to the interiors of new properties being developed by Keepmoat in Dinnington – which includes five dementia care bungalows, 22 older persons’ apartments, four general needs apartments and four older persons’ bungalows – and Throckley – which includes 46 older persons’ apartments and four older persons’ bungalows.

Simon Williams, technical manager for Keepmoat in the North East, added: “Every form of housing or accommodation we build will always account for varying generations or those with particular needs. Meeting Claire and hearing first-hand experience of what we do well to cater her for needs, as well as any adjustments which would be beneficial, has been invaluable.”

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