Times. They are a-Changing.
2021, a Pivotal Year for Accessible Restrooms in England
There are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK. A proportion of those – people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities – often need equipment, such as a hoist and changing table, and space to allow them to use restroom facilities safely and comfortably. With a lack of Changing Places, many people (including families) are effectively excluded from being able to do all of the things that they want to do.
The Changing Places Consortium (a group of like-minded charities and organisations) launched its campaign in 2006 on behalf of the over 250,000 people across the UK who cannot use standard accessible restrooms. This includes people with muscle-wasting conditions, profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people. Since then the Consortium and many hard-working individual campaigners have pressed organisations and Government with the goal of making the installation of these facilities a priority.
The Consortium created a set of Changing Places specification requirements, ensuring that all facilities installed are built to the same standard and maximise their accessibility. Changing Places restrooms provide more space (12sqm2) than a standard disabled restroom in order to accommodate the disabled person and two carers. They are also required to include a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a ceiling track hoist. Other specialist equipment such as height adjustable washbasins, peninsular toilets, a privacy screen and grab rails are also included.
A Changing Places toilet at the Wellcome Collection Museum, London
As the legislation stands, there is no legal requirement to retrospectively fit existing buildings. However, the newly announced £30m of funding for Changing Places will enable local councils to decide where in their area, including in existing public buildings, Changing Places restrooms are most needed. This will help expand the network of facilities across England.
While announcing the provision of the £30m of funding, Regional Growth Minister Luke Hall MP said:
‘For too long, the lack of suitable toilet facilities has meant disabled people have faced major difficulties when they shop, go out, or travel and this should not be the case. That’s why the provision of Changing Places toilets is so important for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.’
A Changing Places toilet at the Friary Shopping Mall, Guildford
A Changing Places toilet at Tesco Supermarket, Watford
It is also really exciting to see the international growth of Changing Places and we hope to use our experience to help fast-track the roll out of these facilities in other countries.
As official sponsors of the Changing Places campaign, the team at Aveso are passionate about creating spaces which provide a safe environment for people with additional restroom needs. They can help every step of the way; from initial advice on feasibility and funding, to planning and design, through to installation.