Before the ‘Changing Places’ facilities were introduced, I could never be as independent as I wanted to be. I have had Cerebral Palsy and use an electric wheelchair. I live every day as it comes, going out with family and friends, trying to not see my disability as I barrier. I am 22 years-old and I want to enjoy life as best I can.
However, when it comes to using the bathroom, it is a barrier I cannot avoid despite my efforts. Due to the degree of my disability, I do need support with all elements of my personal care and I have to use a hoist to move out of my wheelchair and onto my wheelchair.
At home and at University, I do not have to worry, I am lucky, I don’t need to worry about struggling with toileting and personal care as I have the correct hoist and facilities to enable me to live and enjoy my life.
Elsewhere, especially in public, I have to find one of the limited disabled toilets and hope that I can use them.
As the disabled toilets have often got a standard lock on the door. This means I often have to wait in a long queue to use them. I have also had times when I have to wait outside a standard locked disabled toilet which is engaged to find that an able-bodied person using the toilet.
Do you have any idea how frustrating that is?
Able-bodied people emerge from the standard locked disabled toilets and look at us. They do not react to seeing me staring at them in disbelief. They do not apologise when we point out their mistake. People just take it in their stride and see that it is okay to using the disabled toilet is acceptable, even though there are perfectly good men and women’s toilets, steps away from the toilet. These people just cannot bother to queue and wait for an available men or woman’s toilet.
Being able to use the public toilets, without thinking as it comes easy to them. But it shouldn’t be taken for granted as not everyone can have that privilege.
I am lucky that I have my parents who can lift me onto the toilet. They struggle to do so. But they manage it.
To avoid these difficulties, I try to hold onto the urge until I get home but its not healthy for me.
What is the other option? Stay in all day, every day because the toilets don’t have the right equipment and facilities. This is unfortunate reality for many of my friends, whose disabilities are worse than mine, causing them to only be transfered using a hoist.
I am 22 years-old and I wantto go out and hang out with my friends for the day, without my parents. I love going to the cinema with them or going for something to eat, just like anybody else my age.
But the lack of right facilities, particularly in disabled toilets means I cannot fully enjoy myself. All the time I am out my house and out with my friends I am aware that I am on a restricted time scale before I need the bathroom. I am unable to be out for more than a few hours, meaning that I can’t have a full day out with my friends, doing everything we have planned, in risk that I would have an accident.
There have been times when I have been out with my friends and I have been lucky for my parents as they have been nearby to assist me when it comes to using the bathroom. However, they have had to take me home to toilet me before I could come back and enjoy the day.
Further to this, I have been out with my personal assistant and I have been unable to have a full, fun day out as I have had to return home or back to University as I have needed the bathroom. My PAs can’t toilet me at all without a hoist.
This aggravates me!
I really don’t understand why simple changes cannot be made, putting the right facilities into place, to improve people’s days and lives.
Why shouldn’t disabled people, like me enjoy the same opportunities and luxuries, everyone else can because of something simple as needing the toilet.