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Why We Need More Awareness About Changing Places Toilets

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The Changing Places campaign officially started in July 2006. In celebration of this, the Changing Places Consortium decided to make July 19 an annual awareness day for Changing Places — educating people on what they are and why they are essential for so many disabled children and adults in the U.K., but also worldwide. Changing Places Day is also about celebrating the Changing Places campaign and what it has done over the years.

“Many people don’t give visiting public buildings a second thought. But some disabled people are unable to take part in activities many take for granted because standard accessible toilets do not meet their needs – or the needs of their carers and families. Imagine having to change your loved one or someone you care for on a public toilet floor. This just isn’t acceptable. But it’s a reality many have to face daily because they have no choice.” — Changing Places, Changing Lives

What are Changing Places?

Changing Places have additional facilities to meet an individual’s needs that could include:

  • A bigger room to allow several carers into the room alongside wheelchairs and equipment
  • Centrally placed toilet with space either side for carer or for easier transferring
  • Plenty of grab rails
  • A hoist (either a portable hoist or a track ceiling hoist), privacy screens, a height adjustable adult size changing bench
  • Wide tear-off paper roll to cover the bench
  • A height adjustable sink
  • A shower
  • Large clinical waste bins
  • Emergency red cords
  • A non-slip floor
  • A safe and clean environment

Who benefits from Changing Places?

Standard accessible toilets are fine for some disabled people, but not all. Changing Places are essential facilities for over 240,000 children and adults in the U.K. This may include people with muscle-wasting conditions, motor-neurone disease, neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, severe learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries, spina bifida, strokes and other physical disabilities.

Why are Changing Places so important?

Knowing there is a Changing Place facility makes it easier for people and their carers and family to plan leaving the house, whether to attend a hospital appointment, run errands or have a fun day out.

“Standard accessible toilets (or “disabled toilets”) do not provide changing benches or hoists and most are too small to accommodate more than one person. Without Changing Places toilets, the person with disabilities is put at risk, and families are forced to risk their own health and safety by changing their loved one on a toilet floor. This is dangerous, unhygienic and undignified.” — Changing Places

Why we need more Changing Places

In the U.K. there is a growing need for more Changing Places. There are simply not enough, and access depends entirely on where you live. The Changing Places campaign has been very successful in getting more Changing Places facilities installed across the country. It is still not mandatory for Changing Places to be installed in public buildings and spaces, but the Changing Places campaign is working to make it a mandatory requirement under Building Regulation for all public spaces — shopping centers, leisure venues, hospitals, transport hubs like bus and train stations, motorway serves and airports.

How can I find out where my nearest Changing Place is located?

The Changing Places website has a map of all the available Changing Places. You can plan a route and it will show you where all the Changing Places are located along your route. You can also find Mobile Changing Places which can be hired for events. If you come across a Changing Place that is not on the map, you can inform the Changing Places campaign so they can upload it to the map. The map also gives details regarding the facilities available at a particular Changing Place.
Originally published: July 30, 2019
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