Hear from our Chief Operating Officer, Queenie Tran on why tenant’s safety is made our top priority in all our apartments.
‘Safety is of utmost importance to us which is why we have carefully considered the design of our apartments to ensure suitable safety precautions are integrated for tenants’ peace of mind’ Queenie Tran
We spoke with Queenie to find out more about this important topic:
Q: How does Summer Housing approach safety for Tenants?
A: Summer Housing aims to provide high-quality housing in well-connected areas for people with disability to lead ordinary lives in the community. Our apartments are for those who want to maximise their independence and to build capacity, without compromising safety and privacy.
In order to achieve this, we incorporate a number of safety features to allow people to be comfortable and safe knowing that they have assistive technology available to them to get help quickly if they need it; from simple things like a dropped phone, to emergencies.
In our apartments, tenants can communicate with supports using a number of different means to call for help. These include; their phones, pendants, tablets, wall buttons and voice activated microphones and speakers – such as Alexa.
We don’t just rely on technology and have designed apartments that are well-built to include materials and features that will give tenants added safety in emergencies and have the right foundations for supports to provide assistance.
Q: Can you tell us about the features that give your tenants added safety in an emergency?
A: We are lucky to live in a country with very strong building regulations including apartment safety requirements. In fact, we have designed our apartments so that in many cases, it has more safety features than you would find in a house.
The following design features are included in all our apartments:
All our buildings have fire sprinklers throughout the apartments and common areas. If there is a fire, the sprinklers will be triggered and extinguish fires before they potentially grow and spread throughout the room, or apartment.
Electric Strike Entry Doors
The entry doors to each of our tenant apartments are automated from the outset. This ensures that, should the building fire alarms trigger and tenants are unable to open the door for assisted evacuation, the doors are automatically unlocked but remain in a closed to keep out any smoke or flames. This allows support staff or the fire brigade to freely enter and help the tenant, if required.
Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are critical to ensuring tenant safety. We use photoelectric smoke alarms as they are more effective in detecting fire or smoke.
We have ensured that our projects do not include any non-complaint combustible aluminium cladding.
Most importantly, all our tenants have access to the 24/7 on-site concierge SIL provider (Concierge) for any emergencies or ad hoc support. On moving in, the Concierge will undertake a risk assessment with all tenants to ensure that supports and building safety is considered.
The Concierge is located onsite and will be aware of any issues in the building and can provide an immediate response where required. For example, should tenants set oﬀ the smoke alarms in their apartment, the Concierge can help disperse the smoke so that it does not activate a full building alarm.
The Concierge is also an important contact should the fire brigade need to know where tenants are located for assisted evacuation.
Additional elements we consider in our design include:
Two Passenger Lifts
Lifts provide accessible travel to all residential floors and common areas in our buildings. However, we know that lifts sometimes need maintenance and may breakdown. We prioritise developments with multiple lifts so that maintenance does not interrupt our tenant’s daily activities.
This means that in a planned evacuation, there are multiple ways the fire brigade can assist with evacuating our less mobile tenants.
Ground or Podium Floor Apartments
We have a number of ground or podium floor apartments which allow those who are less mobile with a more direct route for assisted evacuation from the building. Being on the ground floor allows tenants to discharge out of the building independently. Similarly, podium apartments allow for alternative transfer floors to evacuate a building.
Accessible Hush Buttons and Break Alarms
These buttons allow tenants to manage alarm escalation and to trigger building evacuation alarms within their apartment or common areas, respectively.
Q: How can you say that apartments are safe when they’re located up in the sky?
A: Our apartments are attractive to people who have a preference to live in vibrant communities that have great public amenities like train stations, shops, and all the features you want day-to-day. Apartments are a cost-effective and scalable solution that ticks all of these boxes. As you see, we’ve taken extra precautions with our apartments to specify additional safety requirements to ensure that tenants are able to feel safe in our homes whilst still meeting those personal preferences.
We talk a lot about ‘dignity of risk’ and ‘duty of care’ when designing and engaging with tenants and their supports. Most people take reasonable risks everyday and this is more so for those with disability who have fought hard for their right to be heard and to not be patronised and diminished in their freedoms.
We have designed our apartments for people to take reasonable risks. The design and management of our apartments provides an appropriate level of safeguards to tenants without diminishing their basic human right to housing options. So, if a tenant chooses to live in our apartment, we will work with them to ensure that they have the right infrastructure and supports to do so.
Q: How does Summer Housing’s model of supports allow for additional safety?
A. Summer Housing works really closely with tenants and their circle of supports. Our support model allows tenants to bring their own supports so that they are able to engage supports with those that they have a trusted relationship with and select their own team. Similarly, with the Concierge, Summer Housing facilitates the Concierge SIL selection process, but ultimately, it is up to tenants with choice and control over who they engage as their Concierge provider.
The Concierge is on-site 24/7, with a support worker available for unplanned and emergency support. They are also there to develop Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, undertake drills, and check in on tenants on an as needed basis.
An additional layer to this is Summer Housing’s own Tenancy Support Officers (TSOs). Our TSOs are a point of contact and a trusted person that tenants can contact, share their concerns and know that we are there to help them resolve problems. We also maintain constant contact with tenants, families and support coordinators to ensure that the tenant is still happy and safe in their own home.
Together, there’s a web of support available to tenants to catch any issues that might slip through cracks.