International Disability Trends – Changing Places UK

  • January 22, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

A national campaign, Changing Places, has been launched to tackle the problem faced by many thousands of disabled people in the UK caused by the lack of fully accessible public toilets. The Changing Places consortium including Mencap and PAMIS is calling for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all large public places, including city centres, shopping malls and leisure venues.

Without these facilities, carers are often forced to change family members on a dirty toilet floor with little or no privacy. This is unhygienic and is also extremely dangerous, as carers must physically lift the person they care for on and off the floor. However, the alternative is to limit outings to a couple of hours or to not go out at all.

Who needs Changing Places toilets?
The UK is home to approximately 40,000 people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the majority of whom need Changing Places toilets. And many other people have similar needs, for example approximately 24,000 people with a spinal injury, 20,000 people with muscular dystrophy and 8,500 people with multiple sclerosis. The number of people with complex disabilities is growing — we are all living longer,

What are Changing Places Toilets?
Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets. They are designed to meet the needs of people who need support from one or two carers to use the toilet or have their continence pad changed. They include the following facilities:

  • A height adjustable changing bench
  • A tracking hoist system, or mobile hoist
  • There should be adequate space
  • A peninsular toilet
  • A screen or curtain to allow the disabled person and carer some privacy
  • Wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench Good
  • A large waste bin for disposable pads
  • A non-slip floor 

Extracted from Spring 2007 Access By Design
Produced by Centre for Accessible Environments UK