I went to do a food shop today with William, a BIG food shop, at the BIG supermarket. Although, pushing a kid in a wheelchair means you can’t actually do a big food shop, because you can’t push a trolley and a kids wheelchair so you have to resort to carrying a basket and shoving things in the wheelchair and hope you don’t get accused of stealing!
Anyway, while we were there, William needed the loo. Nothing unusual there for a 5 year old kid, they always pick the most awkward times to need a poo don’t they! He was getting pretty upset and we were only half way through the shop so I did what any Mum would do, I ditched the basket in the tinned foods aisle to take him to the loo. Of course before doing that I had to retrieve all the other items I’d shoved in the wheelchair and leave them behind too!
But today has taught me a lesson I wasn’t really ready for and I have left feeling devastated.
So, while walking to the loos it occurred to me that the shop I was in (big supermarket you can guess which brand) had a disabled loo and a baby changing room, but they were separate so I was in a quandary.
William can’t stand up so I have to lay him down to take his trousers off, remove his nappy and then put him on the loo. He’s 5 so he’s far too big and heavy for the baby changing unit but we try to make it work. But that wasn’t an option in this store so I was trying to decide whether I should…
a) Use the baby changing room to undress him and then carry him with his bottom half naked for the world to see, through to the disabled loo. If I did this then I’d have to leave the wheelchair in the baby room with all my valuables (keys, phone, purse etc) as I couldn’t carry them, push the wheelchair and carry William. And of course I’d not only have to hope they were still there after he’d used the loo, I’d also have to hope the room was still empty so we could use it after he’d finished.
b). I could put my coat on the floor in the disabled loo and undress him there. Grim but do-able and he was getting desperate and starting to scream by this point.
So I decided I would opt for option b this time. Although the thought of it was making me feel sick even before we got close to the loo.
Anyway, I get to the disabled loo and the floor is filthy, there’s dirty loo roll on the floor and I’m not sure if the floor is wet with water or urine. Either way there is no way I am putting my coat on the floor, let alone my kid. And if you think I’m gonna kneel there you are delusional!
So, it’s fine, theres a plan b (or a in this case!) I would use the baby changing room and risk the car being nicked. But there’s someone in there and someone else waiting.
William is SCREAMING by this point coz he really needs a poo. So I left. I just couldn’t face it and was so upset that these were our only options and realised it would be easier to just take him home where he can poo in comfort without any one seeing his bum.
Then it struck me, William is only 5 so I currently have options. What the hell am I going to do when he is 10 and I can’t physically carry him or even lift him onto the floor? My eyes started welling up and I was so upset that I had to stopp at customer services on the way out and explain the problem. In the hope they would also see how ridiculous this was.
So, through watery eyes, looking like some sort of crazy lady, I told the manager about changing places toilets and how they could easily put a large changing bench and a hoist in their disabled loo so that kids like William can use the loo. I explained there must be adults around who have this problem too, and wondered what they do.
To be fair, the manager was lovely and she admitted she’d not thought of this before – totally understand, I’d not either until recently. She has promised she will contact head office and get them to order a big changing table and a hoist to go in there. She doesn’t know how long it’ll take but told me she’d keep me updated!
It is now 4 years since this happened. They never did get the equipment they promised me back then.
William is now 9 and I find it almost impossible to lift him off the floor so we can’t use the disabled loo even if we wanted to degrade him and put him on the floor. Nothing has changed. This store tell me they cant make adjustments in this store, despite it being a HUGE store, with plenty of space to provide something.
This is a store you’d stay at for a while, it has a cafe, a sandwich chain, a travel agents, vets 2 pharmacies, it is HUGE. You’d go there for a food shop but stay for a coffee or to buy other things. You’d probably use the toilet. So why are they only providing a loo for able bodied people or disabled people who can transfer from a wheelchair on their own? It’s now 2018, things HAVE to change.
I don’t want to have to only do online shopping, I want my son to have the same rights that my friends kids have. It’s not right that he is being discriminated against for needing a little more help to use the loo.
Please sign this petition to ask all our supermarkets to provide changing places toilets.
Got questions about changing places toilets? This blog will answer them all for you! Including why we need them, how much they cost and who should provide them.