The location of the ‘Changing Places’ facility within Highcross Shopping Centre is on the ground floor of the main shopping centre, near the other toilets on that floor. There is also the correct symbol and sign within the other toilet signs on this floor which makes it easier for customers with disabilities to locate the correct toilet, to reinforce this there is also the correct ‘Changing Places symbol on the toilet door. Three very important ticks in the box, before we get into the facility itself.
I have used this particular ‘Changing Places’ facility twice and the first time I used it, it did have a radar key lock on the door but on my second visit, the radar key lock had been changed to a standard lock. This complexes me, I would understand if a ‘Changing Places’ facility went from baring a standard lock on the door to a radar key lock, it would mean that they are making the correct steps to making the facility and more secure place and prioritising certain people’s needs over others, but the way they have done it makes no sense and it just undermines some of the aims that ‘Changing Places’ are trying to achieve.
The space within the facility is very alarming, I don’t think the designers who constructed the space for the facility bared in mind what the facility was going to be used for nor the needs of those who were going to use it. I agree that all of the equipment that is expected to be in this particular facility is there and in working order, however there is restricted space for disabled people to be able to use it with ease or in comfort. It seemed that the Shopping Centre had to put one of these facilities in place in a rush and used any available space that had, not thinking about the bigger picture.
On the positive side, the facility does have access to a working ceiling hoist which those who can’t transfer independently can use to be able to go to the toilet. But what I will say is, the ceiling track doesn’t go over the toilet as well as it should and my personal assistant at to concentrate very hard on keeping me safe and being able to get me over the toilet properly so I can let myself down. The track could not stretch in the restricted space managed to get me out of my wheelchair and on the toilet, which is a huge disappointment and I think it undermines the whole point of having a ceiling hoist. Another piece of equipment the facility does have is a fold away changing bed, which is a good thing as those who are disabled and have constants issues can use it and it does completely what it is designed to do. But, though I didn’t have to use it myself, I’m assuming that when that changing bed is unfolded and is prepared to be used, it would stretch the restricted space even thinner and make it much more difficult for individuals to use the facility.
There is no screen of privacy within the facility, which is very disappointing as I think it’s needed for the peace of mind of the disabled person using the toilet and the person who is in the facility with them, so everyone is able to feel as comfortable as possible when using the facility. The cleanliness wasn’t great either, there was a lot of tissue strewn across the floor and water was splattered on the floor which doesn’t help with health and safety for the disabled person no the personal people helping them with their personal care, it is it is also it is also very unpleasant. This along with the lack of hangers within the facility, restrict the space further with jackets and bags cluttering up the floor and it isn’t very hygienic either.
It is a very disappointing facility and I think the design aspects need to be rethought if its going to beneficial to those who are in dire need of it.