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Changing Places- the big picture

WRITTEN BY ANGELA MAY PUBLISHED: 1 JULY 2019

If you are a larger disabled person, chances are you struggle to find suitable toilets when away from home. But this month you have an opportunity to affect that in the future…

full spec cpThe Government is currently consulting on the provision of Changing Places toilets in public environments.  The consultation closes on July 21. 

One area being covered is what should be included within these assisted accessible toilets. Has anyone ever pointed out the particular issues that obese people face in using any WC, be it at home or away? It is commonly acknowledged that obesity is a growing issue: almost a third of adults are now obese. 

The European Court of Justice ruled that in some cases obesity can be a disability. Whether or not it is officially recognised as such, the practicality is that often an obese person will use an accessible toilet because of the issue above- space. Indeed, in any toilet- accessible or conventional- space is too often at a premium: there are some WC facilities in certain restaurants that are a tight fit for even a thin, able person.

Changing Places toilets are designed to enable anyone who needs help to ‘go’ when away from home, whether from a carer, or carers, and/or equipment.

The equipment therein is typically capable of bariatric loading. But what about obese people who do not need to be lifted or changed, who can move a little or a lot without support? For example, is there enough space to manoeuvre onto the toilet or are support arms in the way? Once on the WC, can the support arms be lowered into position? Is there sufficient space between the pack of the WC and the seat for them to sit safely, comfortably, and ensure bladder and/or bowel is evacuated into the pan? Is the seat the correct size and shape to support the additional body mass?

The consultation is looking at what should be the minimum size of a Changing Places. It is also asking whether more or less equipment should be included. It does not ask whether the current design, layout is correct. But is does give respondents the opportunity to comment. 

Whatever your size, if you need, and/or use, Changing Places, have your say. It is your chance to influence what is provided, and where, so you can enjoy doing everyday activities, or treats, that most able people take for granted.

The consultation can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changing-places-toilets


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