OpeMed help disabled shoppers with new Changing Places toilets in Tesco stores

New Changing Places toilets in Tesco stores

Changing Places Toilets have been Changing Lives since 2006 by providing specialist facilities for people with a disability. 13 years on, it’s great to see that there are more than 1,200 facilities in the UK. However, with over 1/4 million people in the UK that are not able to use standard toilets, this number is still not enough. Over the last year, Aveso (the joint sponsorship between OpeMed and Astor Bannerman) has been working in partnership with Tesco and the Changing Places Consortium on a plan to deliver over 30 Changing Places toilets. Placed in locations which currently lack Changing Places facilities it is hoped the new toilets will help make a trip to the supermarket a little bit easier.

New Changing Places toilets in Tesco

Standard accessible toilets do not provide changing benches or hoists and are often too small to accommodate more than one person. People with serious disabilities are often forced to be changed by their carers or loved ones on the toilet floor. With awareness for Changing Places growing, large businesses are also becoming educated on the importance of having these toilets and the difference it can make to their customers. One such company is the retailer, Tesco. The first 3 new Changing Places toilets in Tesco stores were installed before Christmas in Ryde Extra, Fareham Superstore and Aylesbury Superstore. These new facilities are in addition to four existing Changing Places toilets: Milton Keynes Kingston Extra, Slough Extra, Stourbridge Extra and Calne Superstore. Each toilet includes a fully height adjustable Changing Bench, full-room covering Ceiling Hoist system, Privacy Screen, peninsular Toilet and other ancillary items.

Integral to this project has been keen Changing Places campaigner, Kerry Thompson. Kerry, who has a muscle-wasting condition called FHL1 Gene Mutation Muscular Dystrophy, contacted Tesco to discuss the need for Changing Places toilets within their stores.

Nick Kent, Managing Director of OpeMed and Co-Founder of Aveso – Official Sponsor to the Changing Places Campaign, said:

“The commitment by Tesco to install so many Changing Places, significantly moves the goal posts for these vital facilities in the retail sector. Aveso and OpeMed are proud to have taken part and supported this rollout programme over the last 18 months and look forward to the next phase over the coming year.

“I have personally learnt that a project of this size can have its challenges and I would like to thank the team at Tesco and Harvey Shopfitters for pushing the boundaries in the last year to achieve this roll-out. Additionally, Kerry Thompson with her real-life explanations and measured sensitive persuasion has also been instrumental in bringing this project to life. There are not enough Changing Places toilets currently in retail, but well done Tesco and Kerry, for taking us towards a more inclusive future

A Tesco spokesperson said:
“We were keen to meet with Kerry and when we heard her story we wanted to help. It’s clear how important Changing Places toilets are to our customers who need them so we’re pleased to be installing more facilities in the coming year. We treat each store on a case by case basis and wherever possible we will try and accommodate them and help customers such as Kerry.”

Kerry Thompson, Changing Places campaigner, Author of blog ‘My Life, Kerry’s Way’ and co-writer for #MDbloggersCrew, said:
“Having access to more changing places toilets means ‘freedom’. To do what everybody else does on a daily basis go food shopping, cinema, girls lunch even taking a trip somewhere new. But most of all having less anxiety and worry about limiting my fluid intake, in a way Tesco’s are helping me and thousands of others ‘To live their best lives’. 

“It’s been a privilege being a part of this truly amazing project with Tesco and everyone else involved to see how hard everyone has worked to make this happen, Tesco are paving the way for others to follow suit.”

Laura Rutherford, CP Campaign Co-ordinator at PAMIS (co-chair of the Changing Places Consortium) and mother to Brody who requires Changing Places toilets, said:

“The commitment Tesco is showing to becoming more inclusive is fantastic. When it comes to my son Brody’s toileting needs, Changing Places toilets ensure that he can go to the toilet safely and with dignity – just like everyone else.

Tesco say every little helps and that is certainly true. Going to the toilet is a basic human right and food shopping a necessity. Introducing Changing Places toilets to stores will mean thousands of families in the UK will feel welcome and included at Tesco. Huge well done to Tesco and everyone involved in making this happen.

Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said:

“Having access to Changing Places toilets gives disabled people greater independence, and we are delighted that Tesco has committed to installing more than 30 facilities in the UK this year. Having the support of such a high-profile retailer is an encouraging step forward in our campaign and we hope other retailers and venues will follow suit.

“Like everyone else, disabled people go shopping, travel to work and meet their friends, but a lack of Changing Places toilets can leave them isolated. By building more Changing Places toilets, we can help to tackle the exclusion they face.”

Is your business inclusive? Discover Changing Places with OpeMed

Interested in installing a Changing Places for your business? By dealing directly with OpeMed you can be assured of the most cost-effective solutions as well as guidance on obtaining official Changing Places accreditation for the room. Book your consultation today to start the Changing Places conversation.

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