I‘ve seen so much on social media, especially Twitter about a little thing called Changing Places toilets. As we have never needed a Changing Place toilet ourselves I wasn’t exactly 100% sure what they were. I knew they were a form of disabled toilets, but all disabled toilets are the same right?
You get a wide door for a wheelchair, some hand rails for support. I mean what more do you really need?
But much more really is needed.
A Changing Places toilet is not a baby change or simply a disabled toilet, it is much much more and it needs to be. A Changing Places toilet is a disabled/accessible toilet which includes an adult sized changing table, a hoist, a basin and a toilet. It can be as small as 7.5m2 or as big as 12m2, basically the size of a car parking space.
For God sake, can’t you just use a baby changing station, there’s loads of them everywhere
A parent or carer can’t just use a baby changing facility as this is about disabled children & adults who are to big for a baby change table. Not all children can be toilet trained through no fault of their own, and disabled children go on to become disabled adults. The problem does not just go away with age, and that’s something I think some people just don’t realise. Some disabled adults are incontinent, and where do you change them apart from on a filthy floor?
Well I would never change my child on a disgusting, dirty floor!
It’s ok for some people to say they would never do that but seriously, what do you do if you are out with a loved one who has soiled? If you are on a long journey & need a toilet break like so many of us do? Do you leave them in their own excrement? Or do you just not bother leaving the house as there are no facilities nearby? So many of my little boy’s friends need these facilities, we chat in playground at the end of the school day, about our various struggles going out with our children, their struggles with something as simple as changing their child is heartbreaking.
And don’t get me started on the people that are saying these photos shouldn’t be shared.
This campaign has been going for over ten years and still barely anyone has taken notice. This is what people have to go through daily, it shouldn’t be ‘behind closed doors’, it’s like turning off the news as you don’t want to hear anything bad. It’s still happening and something needs to be done to change it rather than ignoring it as this is never going to go away. There will always be disabled people who need these facilities.
Raising awareness is key, like I said, my boy has special needs and I didn’t realise how limited the facilities are. The more people that know about the need for Changing Places toilets the better. Sarah from Hadley’s Heroes has been doing some amazing work. Her #LooAdvent is genius and is getting some incredible national coverage, even some celebrities have joined such as the boys from The Last Leg.
I think there’s an assumption that if someone is incontinent then they are somehow mentally impaired, as if they don’t understand what is happening to them or they don’t know they have soiled themselves. Obviously in some case this is true but it doesn’t mean they can be left in a dirty nappy or pad.
If people think it’s disgusting to eat whilst in a toilet, can you imagine the feeling of having to actually lie down on a dirty floor? Wondering if that is someone’s urine or water that is near you.
Can you imagine the embarrassment you would feel if you could smell your own excrement in public, knowing other people could also smell it?
Can you imagine having to sit in that excrement, feeling yourself getting more & more sore, more & more uncomfortable?
No, neither can I.
I’ve read comments where people have said they wouldn’t go out without planning for a suitable toilet break but as Changing Places toilets are very limited then your choice of outing is very limited. Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to go to places they enjoy, to experience things non disabled people do. It would break my heart to know that I couldn’t take my boy somewhere he would love, or that we’d have to make sacrifices and lay him down on a dirty floor to change him.
1 in 260 people need one, in fact it’s probably much more than that as that statistic only includes people who need all aspects of it. Given that the school my boy goes to has a total of 110 pupils and almost three quarters of the students would need at least the larger sized changing table, I’d put this 1 in 260 people needing a Changing Places toilet much higher.
Only 9 UK supermarkets have a Changing Places toilet, when you realise there are over 2600 supermarkets in the UK then you realise just how little they cater for their disabled customers.
There are 1040 Changing Places in the UK, which sounds like loads doesn’t it? But it’s a drop in the ocean, there are 600 publicly accessible toilets in the Shard alone and not one Changing Places toilet.
This campaign has been running for over twelve years and still no major changes have taken place, only recently has the campaign gotten major media attention and so many people were disgusted that a mother took a photo of their child on a toilet floor. The outrage shouldn’t be about the photo, it should be about the fact for so many families this is the only way they can change their loved one. This is why it is so important to keep the campaign in the media.
Without Changing Places carers paid and unpaid, are having to use moving and handling techniques that are considered too dangerous for nurses to use in hospital because of the known risks to both the carer and the person being lifted. But it’s ok for them…
Changing Places toilets don’t affect us directly as though my boy is disabled, he is able to use a standard disabled toilet but disabilities are indiscriminate. Anyone at any point can become severely disabled, you have to be born with a disability to need a Changing Places toilet.
I see the struggles of so many of his school friends and their parents & carers, unable to do the simplest of things because they or their loved one has a disability.
So yes, yes we do need more Changing Places toilets and I hope anyone reading this post would agree and sign the petition.
If you want more information on Changing Places toilets & the impact it is having everyday on disabled people, their families and carers then head over to Mum on A Mission, she’s written some amazing articles and done some fantastic work on raising awareness. I’d also recommend liking the Hadley’s Heroes facebook page or following the #LooAdvent & #ChangingPlaces hashtags on Twitter
You can sign the petition to get supermarkets to commit to installing Changing Places here as it would be life changing for so many people.
And please share this post using the sharing buttons below, or any other posts you see on social media to raise the awareness this campaign desperately needs. Thank you!!