img_5445INVENTIVE housing and care leaders have scored a hi-tech hat trick – by creating a showstopping annual event to show how they are transforming lives.

Blackwood has earned a reputation for its highly creative and engaging yearly showcases, which feature life-changing technology and innovative displays.

Now, it has delivered again by focusing on the social aspect of its work – and turning its AGM into an interactive “tea and technology” event, which allowed remote users to join in from all across Scotland, with some even taking part from the comfort of their own living room.

One such customer was David Grant, from Dundee, who was delivered a special afternoon tea at his home while joining the AGM via CleverCogs – Blackwood’s state-of-the-art system of connected touch screen devices which can influence almost everything in a house from opening curtains to planning care and support with family and friends.

Fanchea Kelly, Chief Executive at Blackwood, said: “We have had great success over the past two years, with our highly interactive events featuring everything from bionic arms and robot exoskeletons to the construction of a full scale, walk-through replica of our concept house.

“This year, we wanted our meeting to be more people-focused as our customers are at the heart of everything we do. The focal point of all our technology is to improve disabled people’s lives every single day and improve independent living.

“We always strive to create an ‘AGM with a difference’ and we’re delighted to now have 3 years’ experience of delivering unique and ambitious events.

“All of our concepts are tested by customers at Blackwood who give valuable feedback on how the design can be improved, which helps ensure that they are as effective as possible and that there is a constant challenge to evolve.

20160920_172938“This is co-design in practice and we are most interested in the feedback we get from customers and from fellow professionals.”

Customers came together from Ayr, Stirling, Aberdeen and Dundee and, alongside Blackwood employees, were treated to some of the latest pioneering technology. Especially positive feedback was given to the housing and care provider’s new app The Huburbs – a Sims-style video game which challenges the user to manage a virtual housing development and build the best possible living environment and neighbourhood for their customers.

Fanchea added: “It’s a very exciting time for us with the launch of our Blackwood House in Dundee this year, and the integration of CleverCogs.

“We very much pride ourselves on 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 service-users to help shape our future. We believe that being able to connect our customers with this year’s live broadcast AGM provided the perfect platform to do just that.”

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.