The Importance of Changing Place Toilets

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Changing Place toilets are greatly needed by many individuals but unfortunately, there is a lack of them all over the world in public destinations. Modern building requirements mean standard accessible toilets can be found in most businesses or in the nearby vicinity however, some customers need more assistance. When there is no Changing Place toilet, it prevents some people being able to visit destinations or events. They will choose either not to go out or find somewhere inclusive with the right facilities to visit and spend money there instead!

So, what is a Changing Place toilet?

Variations can be found but, essentially it is similar to a standard accessible toilet with added features. The standard size is 12sqm (3m x 4m). Plenty of space for a wheelchair user to transfer is crucial when building a Changing Places toilet, as well as room for at least two carers to assist them. An adult sized, height adjustable changing bench is also vital, as well as:

  • a ceiling tracking hoist or mobile hoist
  • a privacy screen or curtain
  • a large bin to dispose of any medical items
  • an emergency alarm
  • good colour contrast between the walls and floor
  •  and a non-slip floor.
Image of the Changing Place toilet at Scottish Parliament.
Changing Place toilet at Scottish Parliament.

The toilet in a Changing Place should also always be placed in a central position against the wall to provide a safer transfer.

Due to my disability I require the use of a hoist for all transfers out of my wheelchair, not being able to use a standard accessible toilet can sometimes limit me from where I am able to visit. This in turn can cause a lot of stress. Knowing that appropriate facilities are available puts my mind at ease and I am able to enjoy days out with my friends and family.

A lot of people with complex care needs, especially families, feel isolated in their own homes because if they went out, they would have to lie their children on unhygienic toilet floors due to the lack of changing place toilets. These are extremely undignifying conditions that no one should have to go through.

In Scotland there are 187 Changing Places toilets, 10 of which are in Dundee. This number is continuously growing, just not fast enough. In the video below, I guide you through one of our inclusive virtual experiences, showing how to find the Changing Places toilet within the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee.

Even though I’ve mentioned that every Changing Places toilet follows a standard check list, the inclusive virtual experience is still a fantastic way to see if the facilities fit your requirements before visiting and also how to find the location, putting any worries you may have at ease.

Like many charities and organisations around the UK, OOVIRT is continuously campaigning with different businesses and organisations to include Changing Places and help develop a more inclusive society for those who require this facility. Next time we will be sharing the story of the amazing charity, PAMIS (Promoting a more Inclusive Society), on the work they do to make sure more Changing Places toilets are available and what other brilliant support they provide to help families whose children are living with a profound disability.

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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