Changing Places are accessible toilets that accommodate those with more profound disabilities that cannot use a standard disabled toilet. There is extra equipment in place such as a hoist, changing bed, and a shower. These facilities can provide those with disabilities extra support and comfort when using a public toilet. The Changing Place campaign was launched in 2005 when the need for such facilities was raised by the disabled community.
Before ‘Changing Places’ was introduced, I had to use a standard-sized disabled toilet, often a baby changing facility also, and this led to even less space as there were bins for multiple wastage. I am an electric wheelchair user, and though I was light enough to lift because I was a child, it was still a struggle and complication to have myself, my wheelchair and both parents within this small space. My parents would struggle to lift me up safely and move within the space to put me securely on the toilet. Being moved around manually with my parent’s support, it caused my body to be in uncomfortable positions to be moved from my wheelchair onto the toilet, which would lead to pain and discomfort for the rest of the day. It was also awkward for my parents as it wasn’t the correct position for lifting me out of my chair, and therefore they would have pain from the manual transfer as well.
There were times when one of my parents decided to lift me on their own without the assistance of the other person, to allow more space, but by doing this it was more awkward for both myself, and the parent lifting me because they couldn’t always see around the room properly because they had to lift me and we would both be in uncomfortable positions while doing the transfer. As well as this, when it was just one parent and myself, if anything was to go wrong, unfortunately, my wheelchair would often be blocking the door to give us as much space as possible, which would cause greater issues had someone needed to get in, in the case of an emergency. As a result of it being risky with one parent helping me, we often timed everything so we wouldn’t have to use the standard-size disabled toilet, and used only the one at home, restricting the days and enjoyment we had been out together as a family.
My mum was the first one to spot a ‘Changing Places’ facility within our local shopping centre. I did not know such a campaign was in effect but we were over the moon to see a facility with all the equipment and space that we needed. The ability to use a ceiling hoist and a toilet with extra space around it just made all the difference to my comfort and dignity. I could see that I wasn’t the only person who used the facility, as it had different equipment instead of just a ceiling hoist. It helped lots of people with different kinds of disabilities and made their day much easier while being out, socially.
Over the years, more and more ‘Changing Places’ have been introduced, which is fantastic, and a map of the locations is being provided on their website. The website or app displays where there are Changing Places in accordance with the postcode that you enter, and it also provides you with information on what type of facility it is. The map provides different icons to indicate if a ‘Changing Places’ is locked or unlocked, according to whether it is RADAR key operated. A RADAR key is a particular type of key that allows a person from the disabled community to access the toilet instead of anyone from the public. Many of the disabled community may already have a key, and if not, they can ask a member of staff of the building the facility is placed in for one.
Locations for ‘Changing Places’ rely on communication from the disabled community to confirm and report the status of an existing facility, detailing what the facility has and if it is locked or not.
There are new Changing Places introduced regularly and, as a member of the disabled community, I always keep an eye on the app to see where they are located. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t specify if the ‘Changing Places’ facility is in working order, as many times the ceiling hoist doesn’t work. So if someone is planning on relying on one during their outing, I would phone the location in question to see whether it is working or not. Locations for Changing Places rely on communication from the disabled community to discuss the use of a location and report if it is working or not either by word of mouth, on their app or on social media. I’ll often look at the app or speak to friends who are part of the disabled community who use the facilities of Changing Places. I feel there is a need for these facilities to be installed in businesses and buildings to keep this campaign continuing for the individuals that use them, respecting everyone and the fight for inclusion.
1 thought on “‘Changing Places’ and why is it Important?”