Changing places

New best-practice guidelines urge NHS trusts to improve disabled toileting facilities in healthcare settings

Clos-o-Mat has fitted a number of Changing Places toilets, including one at Darlington Hospital

NHS trusts are being urged to implement new ‘best practice’ guidelines to facilitate the hygiene and safety of disabled patients, staff and visitors.

The Department of Health’s Health Building Note 00-02: sanitary spaces has just been updated and now incorporates specification details for a Changing Places assisted accessible toilet - previously not covered under the document.

“Over a third of NHS users are disabled people and access health services more frequently. But, for many, typical wheelchair-accessible toilets are not suitable,” said Changing Places campaigner, Lorna Fillingham.

The Changing Places campaign aims to enhance and increase the number of purpose-built toileting and showering facilities for people with disabilities.

Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets as they have extra features and more space to meet the needs of the people who use them.

Fillingham said: “Some disabled people need a carer to help them and may need changing or lifting. Without enough space, an adult-sized changing bench and hoist, they either end up having to sit in a soiled pad or lie on the toilet floor. Neither option is acceptable, for health, hygiene or wellbeing, and especially not in a health building.”

Research shows that, of all the 2,300 British hospitals, less than 10% have Changing Places toilets.

Fillingham said: “Their inclusion in the building note is a major step in the right direction. It reinforces the need.”

She added: “Under the Equality Act 2010, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act, there is a requirement to make ‘reasonable adjustments’, including to the built environment where a disabled person would otherwise be at a ‘substantial’ disadvantage. Isn’t having to lie on a toilet floor or sit in faeces a ‘substantial’ disadvantage?”

Clos-o-Mat, a provider of disabled toilet solutions, has fitted a number of Changing Places facilities into hospital environments in the run-up to the guidance being published. It expects to fit more in the coming months.

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