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Pilot washing machine boosts independence for Chinese elders in Newcastle
The independence of a community of Chinese elders in Newcastle who speak little or no English is being boosted through the development of an innovative single button washing machine.
Laundry provider JTM has devised a customised single programme washing machine for residents living at Mascot House, a scheme run by Tees Valley Housing on Westgate Road in the city.
The complex houses almost 40 Chinese elders in one-bedroom properties who had been struggling to understand operation instructions for the commercial machines in the laundry, one of the communal facilities at the scheme.
Kin Kwok, manager at Mascot House, explains: "Modern day digital controls can be overly complex with wash cycles that no one understands or uses. Our residents faced the additional challenge of not being able to read the instructions.
"We tried taping over three buttons with labels to guide residents pushing these three buttons on to operate the machine. However that does not always work. The new machine removes the complexity and gives a simple 'push and go' solution which is really easy to use. Something as simple as being able to do your own washing is vital to help residents maintain their independence."
Kwan Ying Sung, one of the residents at Mascot House, adds: "It is good to use because it is very easy to operate. It has made things a lot easier."
JTM Service repairs and replaces laundries across 27 sites for Tees Valley Housing and Erimus Housing, its partner in Fabrick Housing Group.
Managing director John Middleton says: "We already respond to the needs of residents by designing laundry rooms to accommodate wheelchairs and putting machines on plinths so older people don't have to bend down. However, this is the first time we have actually customised a machine.
"Most people use a 40 degree wash which is ideal for almost all fabrics - and it's a much greener option too."
JTM, which is partnering with Miele Professional on the single programme machine, is being approached by other housing associations that are keen for residents with a range of different needs, including physical disabilities, to test the appliance.
Founded in Leeds in 1983 by MD John Middleton, JTM Service provides laundry facilities and services for more than 100 social housing providers from the Scottish Borders to the Midlands.
Image: Mascot House residents Kwan Ying Sung (left) and Kwan Tai Cheung
21st November 2013