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Accessibility: have you got it covered?

  • Angela May

We’ve all been there- gone to the toilet away from home and been unable to ‘go’ because the facility was unuseable.

Maybe the door lock was broken. The seat broken. No toilet paper. We have all experienced the discomfort, and perhaps almost panic, of trying to find somewhere suitable to then go…

Imagine if you are disabled, and/or care for someone disabled, and being in that situation: needing the toilet, but the facility was unuseable.

It is why we need assisted accessible toilets as a matter of course, so there is the room to move (with wheelchair, carer(s)), the equipment needed to help safely lift someone from a wheelchair and transfer them to the toilet, or lift them onto a changing bed.

But even where a venue has recognised that need, and made the effort, it can still be unuseable.

We came across a couple of reports recently of Changing Places campaigners/ users visiting a facility only to find it was unuseable. In both cases, it was because of the hoist- one of the most important elements of any assisted, accessible toilet facility. In one, the hoist did not actually reach the toilet. In another, there was insufficient ceiling clearance for the hoist to be used in any practical way.

Torbay Council is one that has got it right lately, because it involved potential users from the outset and asked them what they needed, and why. Involving a specialist in the process- be it local campaigners, access consultant, or expert providers, is always a good idea, as they give an appropriate viewpoint. Those of us that are lucky enough to not need help may not appreciate the finer details- such as the hoist does really need to lift someone free, and move them to ALL the fixtures!

Ask, and you will get it right. Assume, and it may be wrong.

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