Toilets are a basic human necessity. Until I became a full time I saw accessible toilets as helpful, but not an absolute necessity. Now my day is planned around them!
So what makes a good accessible toilet?
Of course there needs to be space for your wheelchair or other mobility device. But there may also need to be space for carer. Disabled parents also need space to be able to bring in a buggy or small child that we need to be able to help go to the toilet. Different people transfer in different ways. There needs to be plenty of space for transfers, regardless of the method they use.
What equipment you require may depend on your individual needs. The absolute bare minimum should be adequate bars around toilet and on the walls, sinks and toilet at a reasonable height, and most importantly an alarm system. But even this won’t work for everyone. The standard changing places provides also includes a shower facility, a hoist and a electric changing plinth. This should allow anyone, regardless of needs to be able to use the facilities.
It might sound obvious, that toilets need to be clean, but accessible toilets are often overlooked in cleaning rotas. Considering people sometimes may have to medicate in a toilet, they need to be extra clean. I now carry antibacterial wipes with me just in case.
This is often my biggest bugbear with accessible toilets.They could have all the equipment someone might need, have space and equipment, but if they layout it wrong, it may still be as good as a chocolate teapot! If you can only access the toilet from one angle, that’s useless for those who have limited function in only one side of their body. I also find that where bins are put often obstructs transferring.
Why accessible toilet and not disabled toilet?
Many people who need to use an accessible toilet may have hidden conditions. Ostomy users, those with bladder and bowel conditions, diabetics, those with autism, claustrophobia and other conditions may not see themselves as disabled. But they still may have need for a toilet or changing space with additional facilities. Its also a matter of grammar! The toilet itself is not disabled, its users may or may not identify that way. It should be accessible…to all those who need it! Please don’t shame those who don’t use mobility devices for using an accessible toilet! Not all disabilities are visible and it’s not your place to ask!
What are Changing Places toilets?
“Changing Places toilets provide:
The right equipment • A height adjustable changing bench • A tracking hoist system, or mobile hoist if this is not possible
Enough space • 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
A safe and clean environment • Wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench • A large waste bin for disposable pads • A non-slip floor”
Changing places state that there are around 230,000 disabled people and their families in the UK who are unable to take part in everyday activities out of the home due to standard accessible being unsuitable for their needs. The changing places standard provides facilities which mean these toilets are suitable the vast majority, if not all, toileting and changing requirements.
How do I know where to find a toilet that has the facilities I need?
Theres also the Great British public toilet map, which shows the vast majority of public toilets, including accessible ones, throughout the UK.