Every single time I see someone write about the need for changing places toilets on social media, they are always faced with the same responses. Mainly because people have no idea that this problem exists or how many people it affects. The questions that are asked are always the same, and are usually worded in a way to upset the person (or people) who are facing these issues in their daily lives.
So here are the answers to every question or silly comment I have ever seen about changing places toilets. You can use this to answer peoples comments if you want by sharing the link with them.
If you have been sent this link… PLEASE read it, it’s not meant to offend, it is meant to help answer your questions!
What is a changing place?
Firstly, it is NOT a baby change! A changing places toilet is a large disabled/accessible toilet which includes an adult sized changing table, a hoist, a basin and a toilet. Sometimes they also have a shower but that is usually in a leisure centre.
“Use the baby change” or anything about baby change facilities
As above… this is NOT about baby changing!! This is about disabled children and adults. Who are too big for a baby change facility.
“Most places have disabled toilets”
Yep they do. That’s not what we need. See above… we need changing places
“You can get a radar key”
Yes we can but they only open existing disabled toilets, they don’t magically provide changing places toilets!
“Why can’t you just bring a picnic blanket/yoga mat/changing mat/towel with you?”
We do! But the reality of using it is disturbing. The average toilet floor has 77,000 germs and viruses on it so even if you did use one of the above to put your child on you would be bringing those germs home with you! Using a toilet floor with or without the above is not a suitable option, it is a VERY last resort. Lifting someone on and off the floor is dangerous for both the child and the carer. And remember, those disabled children will become disabled teenagers and adults and then lifting is no longer an option at all which means that disabled people and their families are unable to leave the house for longer than a couple of hours at a time.
“Just use a nappy / pad”
Many people who require a changing places toilet do use a nappy or pad. But they still need somewhere to be able to change that when it is dirty / full. But not all disabled people have difficulties with continence, many simply require help from a hoist to get out of their wheelchair. To ask those people to relieve themselves in a nappy would be disrespectful and would imply their physical disability means they don’t have the same rights to use a toilet as you do. Unless you would be happy to relieve yourself in a nappy or pad and then sit in it for a few hours?
“Use the first aid room”
First aid rooms may have a large changing bed, they sometimes have hoists but they NEVER have a toilet! So this is only an option for someone who doesn’t use a loo.
“You can’t expect all shops, councils, businesses, supermarkets, cinemas (delete as necessary) to provide this”
Why not? All the above places provide toilets for their customers. They provide ladies toilets, gents urinals and cubicles, toilets for ambulant disabled people and also baby changing facilities. Some also provide baby feeding rooms. So why exactly is it unreasonable to expect they provide a changing places toilet for their most disabled visitors? Let’s remember that (apart from councils) these are all very profitable businesses who make money from us!
We don’t expect small cafes or independent stores to provide this, that would be unreasonable. But large businesses, in large buildings, who already provide toilets should 100% be providing these facilities.
“Just do online shopping”
We can of course do online shopping. But that shouldn’t be anyone’s only option. Especially when the only thing stopping someone from shopping is a toilet.
“Use a nappy”
Yes, we can do that. But would you want to use a nappy simply because somewhere didn’t provide a toilet? Many disabled people have full cognitive understanding so imagine the embarrassment and indignity of using a nappy when you have control of your bodily functions. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to sit in your own mess if you were in a cinema or going shopping would you?
“Make sure they use the toilet before you go out”
We all do that anyway, that’s not the answer. The people we are talking about are disabled. Many don’t have the luxury of being able to plan when they ‘go’ or the ability to hold it until they can get home to ‘go’ again.
But perhaps if able bodied people used the toilet before they went out we could just convert the standard toilets to cater for disabled people instead?
“It’s unreasonable to provide this as only 1 in 1 million people need it”
Wrong… at least 1 in 260 people need a changing places toilet. That is a lot of people! And with an ageing population that figure will increase dramatically as time goes by.
“How much does this cost?”
The equipment can be purchased for under £10,000. Annual servicing is under £200. That sounds a lot but when you consider how much many of these businesses make each year, and how much they spend on a celebrity to advertise their products, I think they can afford £10,000!
John Lewis spent £7 million on their Christmas advertising this year alone, to provide changing places toilets in their stores would barely scratch the surface of that budget!
“It takes up too much space”
At it’s largest, a changing places toilet would take up 12m2 – to put that in perspective, it is the average size of a standard parking space. However, at it’s smallest only 7.5m2 would be required to provide the equipment required and many disabled toilets may already be large enough to accomodate the equipment. If there is no space inside there are options for external structures as shown below.
“The insurance would never allow it”
Yes they would. And they do. There is far less risk associated with using these facilities than there is with not using them. Lifting a disabled person is far safer with a hoist, that is why care homes and hospitals do not allow manual lifting.
“These parents should be ashamed of taking a photo of their kid on a toilet floor”
The parents who do take photos of their children on a toilet floor should be applauded actually. Because without them no one would be raising awareness and helping to make things better for everyone else. If you think the photo of the kid on the floor is worse than the kid being on the floor in the first place your priorities are a little bit odd.
“Staff training would be too difficult”
Nope! The only staff training needed would be to train staff in where the facility is and to make sure the hoist is on charge. People using these types of facilities are already trained and know how to use them. Staff would not be involved at all. Much like they aren’t involved when you need the toilet!
“It would be abused or damaged by vandals”
Possibly yes. Much like any other facilities could be. A simple radar lock could solve that, or an intercom system to allow it to be locked until someone needs it.
“There are lots of these toilets already”
Nope, there are only just over 1000 in the whole country. That may sound a lot but what if there were only 1000 toilets for non disabled people in the whole UK… would it sound a lot then? To put it into perspective, there are over 600 publicly accessible toilets within The Shard (and no changing places toilet).
“Councils should provide these” or
“Councils shouldn’t be providing these”
Yes they should and no they shouldn’t! If councils are providing public toilets already (many are closing them) then yes they should provide them. However, councils do not make any profit from providing toilets. Businesses do.
“Businesses should provide these” or
“Businesses shouldn’t provide these”
Think I already covered this. Businesses make a lot of profit. If they provide other toilets and have space they SHOULD provide this and to provide other toilets but fail to provide this could put them in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
“There are laws about disabled toilets”
Yes there are, however at the moment they don’t specify that a changing places toilets is mandatory. Only the Equality Act 2010 could currently be used in court and that requires reasonable adjustments. However, until someone goes to court to test the law there is no precedent we can rely on.
“You can’t expect businesses to cater for everyone’s needs. That would mean hundreds of different types of toilets”
No we sure can’t. However, they if do cater for the continence needs of non-disabled people then they have a duty to provide for disabled people too. Equality Act 2010 covers this.
But to provide for everyone’s needs you only actually need 2 types of toilets. A standard disabled toilet and a changing places toilet. You don’t really need a men’s or ladies toilet as able bodied people could use either of these types of facilities – but providing them means disabled people won’t have to queue for the toilet.
“What does it look like?”
There are many different options but here are a few photos so you can see the idea.
“What can I do to help?”
There are several things you can do! Sign the petition below. Ask businesses to provide changing places. Ask your MP for support. Spread the word and tell anyone who will listen about this issue.