By Quentin Paimparay

Changing Places is a dedicated campaign that strives to improve existing toilet facilities for people with disabilities by providing a lot of features which do not currently exist.


Changing places toilets is a member of the Changing Places consortium: a group of several organisations which work to enhance the rights of people suffering from severe disabilities. Their overall objective is to persuade the authorities to install more suitable toilets in all public places, including city centres, shopping centres, airports, hospitals, train stations… Moreover, they would like to update regulations and planning guidance in new buildings to make sure they include a Changing Places toilet.


A serious problem to many

The innovative toilet that Changing Places toilets wants to extend would suit people who suffer from serious impairments, spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis. Currently, these people probably do not use the toilets comfortably. They need at least one carer to change the continence pad. They also need space, extra features and facilities that a standard toilet does not offer. Rooms are often very small: only two people can enter them which can be awkward for both the person with a disability and the carer. Moreover, these rooms do not provide changing benches and hoists, which increase substantially the risk of injury. Overall, these rooms are dangerous, unhygienic and undignified.


What is actually involved?

The toilets provided by Changing Places include a lot of features which will both help the users and the person who assists them. Currently, some people choose to limit their outings or stay at home to avoid a mishap. To remedy that, the toilets provide:


-          a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench

-          a tracking hoist system, or mobile hoist

-          adequate space in the changing area for the disabled person and up to two carers

-          a centrally placed toilet with room either side for the carers

-          a screen or curtain to allow the disabled person and carer some privacy

-          wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench

-          a large waste bin for disposable pads

-          a non-slip floor


The potential impact


On a day to day basis, most people with severe disabilities cannot access public toilet facilities. In the UK, more than 230,000 people suffer from a severe disability. Mostly, they use standard disabled toilets and families often change the person they care on the floor. Some 514 Changing Places toilets already exist throughout the UK but it is not enough. They have been installed following campaigns denouncing the lack of infrastructure for people with a disability. That number is not good enough as 130,000 elderly people, 30,000 people with cerebral palsy, 13,000 people with an acquired brain injury, 8,500 people with multiple sclerosis, 8,000 people with Spina Bifida and 500 people with motor neurone disease could use them. Furthermore, this number is constantly increasing due to an ageing population.


The toilet conceptualised by Changing Places is a good improvement for any person with a disability and it helps us to imagine the future more serenely. To find out more information about Changing Places, click here.


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