I’m at that stage now, where I am saying I’m a father of a young man, not a child.
My eldest Jordan turned 19 back in April, and for my wife and I it was a massive moment. Our little boy, was a man.
The thing is, as a parent of a young man who has a wide range of medical conditions, and learning disabilities, I still want him to experience all the same things in life others do. When he was younger, his mum and I never thought twice about picking him up, changing him, or lifting him up from his chair. But now all of a sudden that is very difficult. For starters he is taller than my wife now, and well, I’m not as strong as I thought
You see he comes with a lot of kit. We have a Large Electric Wheelchair, a Feed pump, and Suction pump, the feeds, his afternoon meds, Pads, a change of clothes, and usually the other two kids as well. Our Car has increased in size over the year, to accommodate, and now our family car is a Van.
Going out on Family day trips has become especially difficult, when it comes to toilet time. And that is where Changing Places comes into this story.
A Changing Places to us, is a safe and clean environment, with plenty of space (12msq to be exact) where we can change him in comfort.
Because our little man doesn’t always want to be with mum and dad anymore, a 12msq Changing Places is somewhere that carers, and soon College staff, can take him, and change him when they are out and about. But when this happens there is even more kit, as because of his complex needs, Jordan requires 2-1 care. Meaning that you can add another adult in the room
So it is important that if a Changing Places is being installed, it is to the British Standard, so we, the users, know what we are getting. Our expectation is 12swm, an adult-sized height adjustable changing bench, privacy screen and ceiling track hoist.
If a venue can’t fit a Changing Places facility in, then there is an alternative. Space to Change. A Space to Change facility has a Bench and a Hoist, but isn’t the same size as a Changing Places. It manages your expectation, and allows you to decide if this will cater for your needs. And knowing what to expect, and getting it, plays a massive part on how your family day goes.
I’m a keen believer in the idea of Changing Places. They have literally changed my family’s life. But let’s get them right. Let’s make sure that what we call a Changing Place is a Changing Place, and not a make do and pretend place.