There are two answers to the question “where should Changing Places toilets be provided?”. There is the perspective of the people who need to use these bathrooms, and then there is a legislative answer.
Thankfully, due to recent changes in Building Regulations, the difference between the two aren’t much different when it comes to new buildings. However, when it comes to existing buildings much still needs to be done to ensure Changing Places are installed where they are needed.
It is estimated that over a quarter of a million people across the UK are potential Changing Places users. That is an enormous amount of people who may be cut off or segregated from everyday activities and days out, simply because they don’t have access to a safe and hygienic place to go to the bathroom or be changed.
If you asked a person with complex disabilities, their family or assistant where Changing Places facilities should be provided, they would likely reply; “everywhere” (our modular Changing Places toilets help to make this more possible).
The difference being made to people’s lives with Changing Places should not be underestimated.
Potentially, most places you find a toilet and standard accessible toilet people would benefit from access to a Changing Places toilet.
We’ve split these into two categories:
Essential: are the everyday places it shouldn’t be a luxury to visit and find a toilet you can use. Places like supermarkets and hospitals. Everyone should be able to attend hospital appointments and go shopping without having to worry about toilet access. Changing Places toilets are also essential across the travel network, including service stations, airports, and bus and rail interchanges.
Leisure: leisure facilities are places such as theme parks, museums, and parks. These are places people go to have fun but people with severe disabilities may be cut off from due to a lack of suitable toilets. This also includes leisure facilities where better access could significantly improve a person’s health such as swimming baths, or gyms. (See how we enhanced provision at Shorne Woods park in Kent).
In short, Changing Places should be provided in all the places YOU would visit either through necessity or for leisure.
Historically, the legislation around where Changing Places should be provided has been a little bit of a grey area, with Building Regulations calling them ‘desirable’ in public buildings but stopping short of entrenching this in legislation.
This has now changed and the amendments scheduled to be made to Approved Document M mean over 150 new buildings per year could now be adding Changing Places toilets by law.
New buildings or those undertaking major refurbishment, which will require at least one Changing Places in their design includes shopping centres, hospitals, stadiums, leisure centres, and places of assembly, recreation, and entertainment with a capacity for 350 or more people.
The new legislation is welcome as it covers both essential places and places visited for leisure. However, if this legislation only applies to new buildings the question that remains is; “what existing places should install a Changing Places toilet?”.
From a moral point of view – if an existing business, venue, or building would fall under the new legislation if it were a new building, then a Changing Places toilet should be installed. The new legislation has been carefully developed to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and the process included a consultation period with disabled people, their families, and health experts.
The government couldn’t enforce owners of existing buildings to install Changing Places, and in some cases, it may prove extremely difficult to do so, due to space constraints or financial reasons but any business that can install a toilet would be taking proactive steps towards making the UK a more inclusive country.
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To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.
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