‘Changing Places Changing Lives’ is a national campaign calling for Changing Places toilets to be installed in public places throughout the UK. Changing Places toilet cubicles’ are much larger than a conventional wheelchair accessible toilet cubicle and feature a hoist, an adult sized changing bench and privacy screens as standard.
Standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of many thousands of disabled people in the UK. Changing Places toilets are different to standard disabled toilets, with a higher specification for equipment and more space to meet users’ needs.
According to the campaign group, Changing Places, over a 1/4 of a million people across the UK cannot use standard accessible toilets. Many disabled people are unable to take part in activities, that many people take for granted, as there is often no hoist or changing facility for them to safely have their personal care attended to. Imagine having to physically lift and change your son, daughter, partner or parent on the floor of a public toilet – we would all agree that this is not acceptable. It is dangerous, unhygienic and undignified. However, the alternative is to restrict the length and distance of outings or to not go out at all.
It is believed that over 230,000 people in the UK need some assistance with personal care and require a larger installation to allow enough room for them, their wheelchair and someone to assist them to meet those needs. Users of these services could include people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, brain injury, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and some older people. With the number of people with complex disabilities increasing, so does the need to provide the facilities to meet such basic needs.
The Changing Places campaign – which is being run by a group of organisations – want Changing Places toilets to be installed in all big public places, including city centres, shopping centres, arts venues, hospitals, motorway services stations, leisure complexes, large railway stations and airports.
By the end of 2017 there were 1060 registered Changing Places toilets across the UK.
At Advanced Seating Solutions Ltd. We are fully supportive of this campaign and have been involved in supplying equipment for such projects. We are currently involved in the design and installation of a Changing Places facility at a local Physiotherapy Hydrotherapy pool that is being built in Fareham, Hampshire.
Watch this space for news and updates and pictures on this project as it progresses …
A Changing Places toilet is deemed ‘desirable’ under Building Regulations Approved Document M 2015 and BS8300:2009 for all new build and refurbishment projects involving buildings to which numbers of the public have access.
A Changing Places toilet provides:
The Changing Places Consortium wants Changing Places toilets to be installed in all big public places, including:
Changing Places toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets.
To find your nearest Changing Places toilet visit www.changing-places.org/where.asp
The Changing Places campaign is run by a group of organisations. This includes Mencap, PAMIS, Nottingham City Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, The Valuing People Support Team, The Scottish Government and the Centre for Accessible Environments.
Julie’s son Toby is 8 years old and has severe and multiple learning disabilities. Toby needs to use a Changing Places toilet when he is away from home. But there are virtually no Changing Places toilets in the UK. For Julie and her family this places a huge restriction on where they can go and what they can do – and they find it is virtually impossible to do things on impulse.
When the family is away from home Julie carries an aerobics mat so that she can change Toby on a toilet floor if there is no alternative. This involves Julie lifting Toby from his chair to the floor and back again – a very dangerous move for both her and Toby.
“I slipped a disc 20 years ago – my back just seized up and I couldn’t move” Julie explains. “I’m terrified that it will happen again. Getting on the floor to change Toby is the worst position for me to be in. What would I do if it happened while I was changing him and I couldn’t get up?“
“If more Changing Places toilets were installed it would make such a difference to our lives” says Julie. “They would improve our quality of life dramatically – we could do normal everyday activities that other people take for granted.“
Bethan, a mother from Loughborough and her two daughters Elin and Lowri were over the moon when they recently spent a girls’ day out in Nottingham City Centre. Like many other families they went shopping and had lunch in a café, followed by an afternoon at the theatre. This may not sound like an unusual story, but for mum Bethan and her family it is the first time in years that this has been possible, thanks to Nottingham City Council’s decision to install a Changing Places toilet.
Lowri has profound and multiple learning disabilities due to Rett syndrome. She is a wheelchair user with no independent mobility and needs complete 24-hour support with all aspects of her care. Lowri wears continence pads which need to be changed in a Changing Places toilet, like the one in Nottingham.
“We used the Changing places toilet on Saturday and it was brilliant!” Bethan enthuses. “Lowri was very comfortable when we used the changing bench and the whole place was spotless. I was able to take Elin and Lowri shopping for school clothes in the morning, have lunch and then go straight on to the theatre, just like anyone else would have done.“
“Families with a profoundly disabled member should not be forced to choose between being stuck at home or changing someone on a dirty toilet floor,” says Bethan. “Previously we wouldn’t have had the confidence to spend a whole day out. Now that we know the Changing Places toilet is in Nottingham and are so confident of what’s on offer I know we’ll be back regularly…it could get very expensive in terms of lunch out!“