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Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

Changing Places toilets for disabled people to be compulsory

Large accessible toilets for severely disabled people - known as Changing Places - will be made compulsory for new buildings in England from 2021.

Shopping centres, supermarkets, sports and arts venues will be required to include at least one Changing Place, a government spokesman said.

The facilities include hoists, changing benches and space for carers.

Campaigner Zack Kerr said the announcement was "nothing short of life changing".

A government spokesman said there were more than 1,400 Changing Places toilets in the UK, compared with 140 in 2007, but more were needed to support about 250,000 severely disabled people.

Many disabled people have spoken about restricting their drinking to avoid needing the toilet when they were out, risking dehydration and urinary tract infections.

Other issues include sitting in soiled clothing or dirty nappies until they find a suitable toilet or returned home, and carers having to change a disabled person on a dirty toilet floor.

Helen Whately, Minister for Care, said "Compulsory Changing Places in new public buildings is a major step in reducing the health inequalities.

"All public spaces should cater for people with disabilities so they don't have to suffer discomfort, embarrassment, or even injury without access to a Changing Place."

The government's announcement will be a major change for building rules in England which now require Changing Places, which are at about 12 sq m, to be designed for new public buildings.

A £30m fund to install Changing Places in existing premises was also announced in March's Budget.

On Sunday, the Department for Transport and Muscular Dystrophy UK announced a £1.27m fund to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.

It means 87 of England's 118 service stations will have the facilities in the next few years.

Zack Kerr, who has cerebral palsy, launched a campaign for more Changing Places after a "distressing" journey from his Lancashire home to south Wales three years ago.

"We stopped at three service stations on route along the M62, M6 and M5 but none of them had an accessible changing facility," he said.

Mr Kerr said when he started his service stations campaign "there were about 10 [Changing Places] in the whole country and none of them were north of Birmingham".

He said he was "especially pleased" there would be more facilities in northern England.

Comments

Edgar Dowell 188 days ago
Make these available for others as well. My wife had Parkinson's and I was her caregiver. She needed my help and it was often difficult to locate a washroom for her. As she progressed through the stages of Parkinson's and the dementia her ability to take care of herself deteriorated. It was after she could not figure out how to get out of a stall and I had to climb over the wall to get inside and unlatch the door that I could no longer allow her to go it alone with me waiting outside. Many, many times I had to have staff member at a business stand by the door to a multi stall washroom keeping other people out or enlist the help of a stranger to do the same. Sometimes there were family washrooms or single washrooms, but even then they were not always accessible. On one occasion I stopped at a petrol station and asked for the key to the washroom and the attendant told me the washrooms were only for customer use. I decided to leave rather than enunciate what was on my mind about this mean spirited person. Although I had not been to this particular gas station, I have purchased gas at other gas stations of the same brand, hundreds, if not thousands of times over the last 58 years and not used their washroom facility. I would have been a customer after the priority item was addressed. I went elsewhere down the road.
Families with small children should also be permitted to use these rooms and adding a changing table for infants would be a great asset. Businesses that cater to families should be required to have at least one of this types of room.

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