Changing Places are accessible toilets that are designed to meet the needs of people with more complex conditions or disabilities, with extra space and equipment compared to a more standard accessible toilet. In this article, Helen Dolphin tells us everything we need to know.
What are Changing Places?
Changing Places are accessible toilets which have extra space and equipment, such as hoists and changing benches. In the UK it is estimated that there are over a quarter of a million disabled people who are unable to use a standard accessible toilet. To solve this problem, in 2006 the Changing Places Consortium launched a campaign to have Changing Places installed in all large spaces. There are currently over 1,200 of these toilets across the UK.
As well as space for a disabled person and two carers, there is a lot more equipment than is generally found in a standard accessible toilet. Changing Places have a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench with paper to cover the bench and a screen or curtain for privacy. They also have a tracking hoist system or a mobile hoist if this is not possible. The toilet in a Changing Places is centrally placed, with plenty of room either side and the floor is non-slip.
Where can I find a Changing Places toilet?
Changing Places have been installed in many locations, including shopping centres, airports, tourist attractions and sports grounds. Some areas have been better at installing them than others. For example, in Norwich, where I live, we only have three in the city centre and one at the local hospital. To find a Changing Places near you, or where you intend to visit, you can either visit the Changing Places website or download the Changing Places app on your phone. The website also enables you to search for Changing Places on a journey, so you can input your starting point and destination to find out where they are on your route.
It was recently announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in their Inclusive Transport Strategy that they are committed to getting more Changing Places toilets installed at motorway service stations in England. The DfT has allocated £2 million of funding and will be working in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) to deliver this project in the early 2020s. Currently there are only 18 registered Changing Places toilets across a network of over 100 service stations in the UK, so this increase will make travelling a lot more comfortable for disabled people who need these facilities.
The Changing Places Consortium wants all large public spaces to have Changing Places toilets available in addition to standard accessible toilets. If you want to have a Changing Places toilet installed in a particular location or venue, you can contact the Changing Places Consortium to find out more. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org and in Scotland it is PamisChangingPlaces@dundee.ac.uk.
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