Jun 27

£12.5 Million Project Launched To Support Independent Living


A new £12.5 million Blackwood Neighbourhoods for Independent Living project has been launched to help older people carry on living at home independently for longer, combining age-friendly homes with technology and services that reduce social isolation and support healthy, independent living.

Funding of £6 million from UK Research and Innovation will be used by the partnership, which involves Blackwood Homes and Care, the University of Edinburgh and other industry partners, as part of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge.

In all, three sites in Buckie, Glasgow and Dundee will see new homes built and existing ones retrofitted with a range of different innovations, such as a virtual neighbourhood online community that allows residents to gamify fitness goals and share progress with family and friends. 

Home devices will also be connected to the Internet of Things via an app to provide health and wellbeing information.

The University of Edinburgh will be working alongside residents to devise a value exchange model, where people can contribute to local communities through the sharing and trading of skills and expertise.

Chief executive of Blackwood Fanchea Kelly said: “What we are proposing at our three neighbourhoods will effectively create communities of the future, providing what we hope is a blueprint for great places to be as people grow older.

“We want Scotland to be the best place to grow older and we believe the best way to do that is to listen to residents and design solutions with expert partners to respond to what they want.”

Ageing in place is a common concern for older people and there are various ways in which you can carry on living independently. Planning ahead can involve making home adaptations here and there to account for physical changes as you get older, such as investing in mini walk in baths, widening doors to accommodate wheelchairs and so on.

Jun 08

Do You Want To Go To Space?


The European Space Agency (ESA) has extended its deadline to apply to become an astronaut, looking to take on 26 new recruits (something that only happens once every ten years or so) – and it’s keen to make the application process more diverse.

According to the Guardian, disabled people are now being encouraged to apply for the job for the first time, with the agency opening a parastronaut feasibility project to assess the conditions for including disabled people in space.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti commented on the news, saying: “When it comes to space travel, we are all disabled. We did not evolve to go to space. And so [sending an individual with a physical disability into space] becomes a question of technology.”

Of course, competition will be rife and in 2009, only six people were selected from over 8,000 candidates – but you’ve got to be in it to win it, so now’s the time to review your CV and see if you’ve got what it takes to explore the final frontier.

The deadline for applications is June 18th, so there’s still plenty of time to get your CV into the ESA. The organisation is looking for professionals to conduct spaceflight missions to low earth orbit and the moon, fulfilling scientific, technical, administrative and managerial tasks to support the Human Spaceflight Programme.

Duties will include space flight training, operating and maintaining onboard systems, launch and landing operations, and much more. Eligible disabilities include short stature (under 130cm), leg length difference, single or double leg deficiencies below the knee, or single or double foot deficiencies through the ankle.


Are you looking for disability baths at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing for guidance and advice. 

May 28

Football Your Way Campaign Launched For Disabled Footballers


A new campaign has been launched to help disabled footballers make their return to the sport, as coronavirus restrictions are lifted all over the UK.

Funded by Sport England and England Football (the FA’s new home for participation), the campaign forms part of the tackling inequalities funding programme, with a new online information hub set up to support and motivate people to feel empowered and participate in football-based activities.

The hub features something for all ages and abilities, ranging from skill demonstrations and downloadable resources to various challenges.

England Football has also launched a 3 Step Challenge to inspire disabled footballers to get more active, encouraging them to design their own challenges to ready themselves for a return to the pitch. They can then upload their challenges to be in with a chance of winning a series of different prizes.

Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s football with the FA, said: “As restrictions across the country lift, everyone’s individual journey back to physical activity will be different and the Football Your Way campaign has been created to offer disabled people support and guidance to return to football at their own pace and in their own circumstances.

“There’s no fixed route for how or when people should return and the campaign will provide support to those who wish to play at home, in the park or return back to a club.”

Through England Football, there are now more opportunities than ever to play football if you do have a disability, with three main pathways now open. These are mainstream football, where disabled and non-disabled players play together, pan disability football for people with a broad spectrum of health conditions, and impairment-specific football.


Are you looking for mini walk in baths at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing today.

May 19

500 Global Firms Agree To Publish Disability Representation Reports


Some of the biggest companies in the world have agreed to publish quarter reports into disability representation, with the Valuable 500 global disability network saying it has now reached its target of getting 500 major firms to put this on their boardroom agenda.

These companies include the likes of Unilever, Microsoft, Google and Coca-Cola, the Guardian reports, with members of the network held accountable for raising representation through updates and progress reports.

Research by the organisation (which represents firms with annual revenue of more than £5.7 trillion) shows that there are currently no senior managers or executives who have disclosed a disability at any of the biggest UK firms in the FTSE 100. In addition, only 12 per cent report on the total number of staff members who are disclosed as being disabled.

Founder of the Valuable 500 Caroline Casey said: “There is much further to go to achieve true inclusion in the workplace. However, I am confident that as we enter phase two of the campaign, the brilliant businesses on board will continue to have an important and global impact on driving forward disability inclusion worldwide.”

The Valuable 500 was launched two years ago to help unlock the socio-economic value of people living with disabilities all over the world – some 1.3 billion of them! It now represents 20 million employees across 64 sectors and in 36 countries, catalysing the influence of large private sector corporations in both national and international markets.


Are you looking to invest in disability baths at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing today to find out more.

May 05

Accessibility Performance For Smart Heating Apps Revealed


A series of usability tests have been carried out by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) on smart central heating control apps to find out which ones are the most accessible for disabled and older people.

The apps that underwent testing were Nest, Tado, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, Netamo, Honeywell Home and Hive. Each one was assessed for characteristics like download, responsiveness and customisation.

They were also tested to see how they could save people energy and money, with features including program modes and open window detection.

Overall, it was found that the Hive app was the only one that performed well across all seven categories, with its clearly displayed features and minimal user interface making it easiest to use for most impairment groups.

CEO of the RiDC Gordon Mccullough said: “Smart-home technology is often championed as a way for disabled and older people to have greater independence at home, which is particularly true for the control of heating and energy use.

“What’s interesting here is the variation in how much the apps can be customised, which unfortunately means that customers may miss out on being able to use some of the features, including those that have the potential to save energy and money.”

A concurrent online survey also revealed that one in four disabled people find they have difficulties using apps in general, with 44 per cent going on to uninstall or stop using them as a result.

If you’re looking for more information on accessible apps in general, not just smart central heating ones, charity Scope has a useful online guide to the various ones available, everything from turning speech into text to finding accessible toilets.


Are you looking for disability baths at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing today to find out more.

Apr 29

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm Wins Inclusivity & Accessibility Awards!


It’s always welcome news to hear of businesses and attractions taking steps to become more inclusive and make their sites more accessible for disabled people.

And if you’re looking for your next fun day out, a trip to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm could be on the agenda, as the business has just taken home the gold in this year’s Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards for accessible and inclusive tourism.

The team have been working hard behind the scenes to make the zoo accessible for all, with a Changing Places toilet recently installed, complete with a hoist and changing bed, as well as making improvements to the car park so it’s more accessible for wheelchair users.

In addition, the staff members have also been taking training courses in autism, mental health awareness and British Sign Language.

Managing director Larry Bush commented on the news, saying: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received these awards, which highlight the dedication of our talented and hard-working team. It’s a huge honour to be recognised for our progress as a green tourist attraction and an inclusive and accessible zoo.”

The site is now open seven days a week but you have to book your tickets online, unless you’re a member, in which case you don’t need to pre-book. The zoo is currently celebrating all the signs of spring, with a new trail to help you explore the various parts of the park and discover all the baby animals.

You’ll see all sorts of flora and fauna on your way round, everything from Jersey cows and donkeys to geese, llamas, Tamworth pigs, Shetland ponies and alpacas!

Are you looking for shower seating at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing for help and advice.

Apr 18

New Mobility Homes Feature walk-In Showers


A new development in the village of Halfway in Lanarkshire has seen 18 new homes being built on the site of an old filling station by Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association.

The £2.9 million development was designed to meet the needs of residents who may have a range of mobility issues, such as needing to use wheelchairs, Lanarkshire Live reports.

Every one of the flats is built to make it accessible and user-friendly for older people with disabilities or limited mobility. All are wheelchair accessible and the walk-in showers are part of large shower rooms. The flats also have open plan kitchens and living rooms.

They also feature green measures like solar panels, Smart metres, double glazing and high performance gas central heating.

Speaking to Lanarkshire Live, maintenance manager for the housing association John McNulty said: “Everyone involved in the project worked together to ensure the highest standards were achieved and are delighted with the finished product.”

Director of the association Elaine Lister said: “This development goes some way in delivering housing for the needs of our elderly and disabled community.”

This is in addition to a similar development of 35 homes at Glenroyal Gardens, located in Rutherglen.

She added: “We will continue to look for opportunities to provide more high quality, affordable housing for people in housing need and to support the communities we work in.”

While developments such as these can be custom built, it is also possible for homes to be retrofitted with modified bathroom facilities to make life easier for those who need them. If you’d like help or guidance related to products such as easy access showers, get in touch with Practical Bathing today.

Apr 13

Durham Home To Be Revived For Over-55s


An historical property is to be given a new lease of life by being renovated as flats designed for over-55s to live in.

The Homes and Communities Agency has revealed that Thornley House near Sherburn in County Durham will be converted into 14 self-contained flats, including 12 offering sheltered accommodation and two general needs properties.

Registered provider Sherburn House Charity will be sensitively converting the property, which contains Grade II and Grade II* listed properties, using a £560,000 funding award from the government’s Affordable Homes Programme.

The building is already used for housing older people but currently has inadequate facilities. The work will include upgrading the bathrooms, which means those needing an easy access bath will be able to get it easily.

As well as bathrooms, other improvements will include better insulation, heating and an end to shared kitchen facilities.

Chief executive of the charity Pauline Bishop said: “The Charity Trustees acknowledged that the properties were past their best and required substantial investment to bring them up to standards required of modern living.”

She noted that the work was part of a five-year plan for the site that will also include a new 55-bed care home, homes for independent living and a shared house for four or five adults with special needs.

Grant funding was necessary to ensure many of the more expensive listed elements of the building were preserved, such as the Welsh Skate and stone slabs for the roof and the preservation of timber doors and cast iron rainwater drainage.

The site has a very long history, dating back to 1181 when it was founded by the Bishop of Durham as a hospital for lepers. In addition to the hospital building was accommodation for the monks and nuns caring for the patients.

It first gained listed status in 1952, with this last being updated in 1987.

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Apr 08

Hospitality Industry Called Upon To Improve Accessibility Standards


The UK’s hospitality industry has been called upon to make improvements where accessibility standards are concerned, with new research revealing that 32 per cent of disabled people are currently not having their needs met by hotels.

The research was carried out by accessibility and disability data organisation Handiscover, reported on by THIIS, highlighting that there are more than 14 million people now living in the UK with a long-term illness or disability that requires specific accessibility needs.

Handiscover is keen to see the hotel and hospitality industry prepare for a reopening and a return to relative normality after covid restrictions are lifted, suggesting that if accessibility information and standards, as well as better training, were in place, the economy could benefit by up to 25 per cent.

Accessibility director Magnus Berglund said: “Improving accessibility in the hotel industry is not just a ‘nice’ thing to do, it is the ‘right’ thing to do and can generate huge increases in revenue for properties.”

The study also found that 58 per cent of disabled people who do need assistance found that staff members at hotels weren’t as knowledgeable about accessibility as they could potentially have been, demonstrating just how important training and education actually is.

Further research, this time carried out by the Papworth Trust, found that 14 per cent of people with disabilities reported having difficulties when going out to pubs or restaurants, while 22 per cent said they have less choice about how they spend their free time because of accessibility concerns in comparison to non-disabled people.

Specific barriers include parking problems, issues with a lack of ramps and handrails, difficulty moving around inside because of stairs, doors and narrow corridors, and inadequate lifts and escalators.

Are you looking to invest in shower benches at the moment? Get in touch with us today.

Apr 02

Kent Council To Use Inclusive Disabled Toilet Signs


Swale council in Kent is displaying new public toilet signs to tackle the misunderstanding around invisible disabilities. In response to a nationwide campaign started by Crohn’s and Colitis UK, 11 toilet signs on the Isle of Sheppey and in Sittingbourne and Faversham have been replaced, according to Kent Online.

The new signs include a picture of a male, female, and wheelchair user, and the words: ‘Not every disability is visible.’ They have been placed in public carparks, libraries, parks, and tourist attractions around the area.

Cabinet member Cllr Angela Harrison said: “Crohn’s and Colitis are lifelong diseases of the gut that effect an estimated 500,000 people in the UK, and more than 50 per cent of these have had a negative experience using an accessible toilet. We hope these new signs will create an accessible space for those living with any invisible disabilities.”

Sarah Hollobone, Crohn’s & Colitis UK campaigns manager, welcomed the move by Swale council. She points out the need to challenge perceptions about what disability looks like, adding that one in two people living with Chron’s or Colitis have reported a negative experience when trying to use a disabled toilet.

The charity claims that 83% of their supporters feel more comfortable when visiting places which have the inclusive signs installed. Their mission was originally inspired by the young campaigner Grace Warnock in 2016. Since then, nearly 2,500 branches of the UK’s five biggest supermarkets have changed their toilet signs.

Being confronted about their reasons for using a disabled toilet is a major source of anxiety for people living with Chron’s or Colitis. A survey by the charity reveals that one in two respondents had received negative comments for using accessible toilets, and 29% have been refused access to the facilities because their disease isn’t visible.

The charity is working to raise public understanding and awareness of the condition, and improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.

If you are looking for a walk in shower bath, get in touch today to see how we can help.