The sun is shining in the clear blue sky. The wonderful greennes of the early summer surrounds Validia’s extra care housing in Kasperi, Seinäjoki. The building, a home for twenty residents, is situated in the middle of the green residential area of Kivistö, a couple of kilometres from the centre of the city. Although the building is Validia’s housing service unit it is nothing like an institution.
”In particular, we appreciate the fact that the building is fully integrated with the rest of the residential area”, says Teija Lehtiniemi, the director of housing services for Validia Housing in Northern Finland. ”There’s no reason why this building should somehow stand out from the other buildings in the area. There are people living in here just like in the building next door.”
The building, constructed by Lakea and finished in 2013, looks just like the other apartment buildings by Lakea in the neighbourhood. They are known for their colourful balconies. The Validia building and the front door is in no way different from any other front door to apartment building except for the bigger wheelchair ramp.
”The interior design solutions have proved to be very successful”, tells Sonja Lehtimäki, the service supervisor for the Validia building in Seinäjoki. The facilities received good reviews in Accessibility Centre ESKE’S inspection. Accessibility is very important to us because most of the residents use wheelchairs.”
Residents living in the Validia building are subject to the Disability Services Act. They are living normal, everyday lives, regardless of their disabilities. Some of them need support in their everyday tasks, some of them are very independent. In every apartment in the building, there is a kitchen with worktops and functions that can be adjusted for residents with wheelchairs.
”Lakea listened to our special needs in the building stage. For instance, in every apartment, a safety phone system was installed with which you can alarm a nurse at any hour of the day. At the entrance, there are big storage and washing spaces for wheelchairs,” Teija Lehtiniemi explains.
Both the residents and the staff have enjoyed Seinäjoki’s Validia building. Turnover has been low. ”Most of the people like to stay here permanently. It’s the same with our staff. Good location, excellent working conditions and nice atmosphere all increase the well-being of the employees”, Sonja Lehtimäki lists.
Validia building is integrated in the surrounding residental area in other ways too, not only by its looks. There are five ”regular” Lakea’s rented apartments in the building, with no connection to the housing services for the disabled. The tenants of those apartments use the same facilities, like the common laundry room and the gym.
”This kind of coexistence is important to our residents.”