Proposals soon to be submitted by the government are set to see 150 Changing Places added to buildings across the UK. The toilets, which are vital to the lives of disabled people who require equipment such as hoists, curtains and changing benches, will be installed in an assortment of buildings around the country, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadia, and arts venues.
There are currently over 1,300 Changing Places in the UK – a figure which has jumped from just 140 in 2007 – but more are needed to improve the lives of the quarter of a million disabled people in the UK who need them.
An absence of Changing Places in public places can force disabled people to: limit what they’re drinking, which can result in dehydration and urinary tract infections; sitting in soiled clothing or nappies; be changed by carers on dirty toilet floors; and limiting their social time by staying in the house.
Local government minister Rishi Sunak MP praised the proposals. He said: “Everyone should have the freedom to enjoy days out in dignity and comfort. For severely disabled people, this is made very difficult because there are not enough Changing Places toilets.
“We’ve made some progress, but I’m determined to increase the number of these life-enhancing facilities, so people are given the dignity they deserve.
“I’m pleased so many people will be helped by this major change.”
The news has been well met by people who require Changing Places. Lauren West, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers Manager, said: “As a Changing Places user, I’m delighted to see the potential change to building regulations to include these life-changing facilities. Currently provision is very hit and miss with some areas having none at all. This means people like myself can’t visit these places or can’t stay as long as they’d like. This consultation is an encouraging step towards making the right facilities accessible to those that need them.
“With Changing Places, disabled people have the ability to travel, to work, to enjoy leisure activities and to spend valuable time with family and friends. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. By providing these toilets, you’re giving disabled people the opportunity to visit your venue, to spend money and to spread the word about its inclusivity.”Get your copy of PosAbility Magazine