Why Are Changing Places Important?
Changing Places affects around 230,000 severely disabled people in the UK alone, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, do not have access to public toilet facilities that meet their needs. These people both young and old need support from one or two carers to either get on the toilet or to have their continence pad changed.
Standard Disabled Toilet vs Changing Places
Standard accessible toilets or “disabled toilets” do not provide changing benches or hoists. 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.
It is now accepted and expected that everyone has a right to live in the community, to move around within it and access all its facilities. Government policy promotes the idea of “community participation” and “active citizenship,” but for some people with disabilities the lack of a fully accessible toilet is denying them this right.
Although the numbers are increasing, there are still not enough Changing Places toilets.
Many disabled or elderly people make a conscious decision not to visit somewhere if they feel they cannot ‘go to the loo’ in a clean, suitable environment. Without these facilities many disabled people and their families cannot take part in activities that most of us take for granted such as Shopping, Concerts and Sports Events.
Providing these toilets in public places would make a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of people who desperately need these facilities.
The Changing Places Reality
We know that in the UK the number of people who would benefit from a Changing Places toilet would include approximately:
- 130,000 older 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
- 500 people with Motor Neurone Disease
There are 10 million registered disabled people in the UK and so suitable toilet provision is therefore vital to help create equality in our society.