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Fit for whose purpose…?

  • Angela May

The debate about accessible toilets being fit for purpose continues to rage among campaigners for assisted accessible toilets. They maintain, logically, that huge numbers of disabled people- they cite 1 in 260 of the population- cannot use standard accessible toilets. They need more space. Or they need lifting- a hoist. Or they need changing. Or all of the above.

When making a judgement call on whether to invest in assisted accessible toilets- be it a full spec. Changing Places, or the smaller, Space to Change, providers often make an assumption that a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet is fit for purpose: it can accommodate a disabled person in a wheelchair.

But many wheelchair users need help, if not someone to push the wheelchair then at least some means of helping them get out of it to get onto the toilet!

And not all disabled people are in wheelchairs! There are invisible disabilities. And beyond sight, hearing, what about continence issues? A stoma user often needs more space, privacy and a means to clean their bag: all issues not addressed in conventional accessible toilets. Or the person may be in nappies, but won’t fit on a baby change unit!

Obese people can struggle to move but may not be in a wheelchair; they may find a hoist useful to help them physically get on and off a toilet. again, not something addressed by a conventional accessible toilet.

So we ask again, fit for whose purpose? We are a commercial organisation, so appreciate as well as any provider of the need to balance ROI. But if you give that extra space, equipment, you open your doors to more users, who will spend money, rather than walk out because they need a loo.

Closomat Limited, Building 1, Brooklands Place, Brooklands Road, Sale Cheshire, M33 3SD