Changing Places Awareness Day 2020

Today, 19/07/2020, is Changing Places Awareness Day in the UK and the government has announced that Changing Places toilets toilets will be mandatory in big public buildings in England and that 37 motorway stations will have Changing Places toilets installed. These toilets enable people who are hoisted or who cannot use standard disabled toilets to be able to relieve themselves in dignity and comfort with enough space for the equipment they need and also the people needed to assist.

image of a Changing Places toilet. Showing a toilet, grab bars, changing bench, shower, shower seat, a privacy screen, pull cord and a ceiling track hoist.
A Changing Places Toilet
(image copyright, changing-places.org)

The hoist means that the facilities in this toilet can be used by people who otherwise can’t transfer. The height adjustable bed provides a safe and clean surface for people who cannot use a toilet to lie down and the fact that it is height adjustable means the person/s assisting are not having to bend into awkward or painful positions to assist with toileting or changing the person they are with. There is even a shower so that an individual can get clean if needed, complete with privacy screen. The floor is designed to be waterproof and easy to clean. This is a great step forward in inclusivity but it is not wholly inclusive. I’m really pleased about the decisons made by the government today in regards to this as it means access and freedom to so many disabled people but I cannot use these toilets as there isn’t a static bar on a wall next to the toilet.

There’s a good reason for this. With the toilet in the middle of the floor there is plenty of room either side of the toilet for a CareGiver to be on each side of it, if someone is being hoisted two people can often be needed. This is also the reason there is plenty of space between all the equipment in the room. I’m not sure what the answer is to make Changing Places inclusive for all, my one idea is to make the grab bars on either side of the toilet longer. I could use the grab bars with assistance if the grab bar was long enough for me to put two hands on it while at a 90 degree angle to the toilet. I’ve yet to see any longer grab bars that fold up though. If they exist please let me know. Also I would like to hear how accessible Changing Places toilets are for you and if you’ve found the shower in them useful?

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