Fantastic that the UK Government are following the lead from the Scottish Parliament who are already well down this route and where there is cross party support for these life changing facilities.
- Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP announces the Government intends to consult on ways to require Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people to be provided in new large publicly accessible buildings
- Care Minister Caroline Dinenage MP confirms 100+ NHS hospitals to build Changing Places facilities backed by £2 million fund
New shopping centres, stadiums and theme parks are among buildings that could be required to provide Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people, under proposals to be put forward by the Government.
Ministers will launch a consultation next year on proposals that the essential facilities are included in all new large publicly-accessible buildings and significant redevelopments. Currently, building regulations guidance only goes so far as recommending Changing Places toilets are provided.
Alongside this, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced £2 million to install over 100 Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England. There are currently only around 30 to 40 Changing Places on the NHS England estate, and this investment will enable Trusts to increase accessibility.
People with disabilities and their carers say Changing Places in public can be life changing and allow them to go out in the public without fear or stress. Changing Places toilets are larger than standard disabled toilets and have extra equipment like adult-sized changing benches and hoists.
In the absence of Changing Places facilities, disabled people and/or carers face:
- Limiting what they drink to avoid needing the toilet when they are out – risking dehydration and urinary tract infections;
- Sitting in soiled clothing or dirty nappies until a suitable toilet is found or they return home;
- Having to change a loved one on a dirty toilet floor;
- Manually lifting someone out of their wheelchair – risking safety; and
- Reducing their time out of the house – restricting their social lives.
While the number of the facilities has increased from 140 in 2007 to more than 1,200 today, the Government is determined to go even further to improve disabled people’s quality of life.
Today’s announcements follow a recent £2 million investment by the Department for Transport to increase Changing Places facilities in motorway service stations.
The Government, with contributions from the devolved administrations, has also provided £70,000 for an online map of the UK that helps carers and disabled people find Changing Places toilets.
Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said:
“We are delighted that the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are committed to making Changing Places toilets more widely available.
“Having access to Changing Places toilets increases independence and improves quality of life, and by investing in facilities we can tackle the exclusion many disabled people face on a daily basis.
“We, along with our wonderful campaigners, have long pushed for changes to legislation to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new large public buildings and it’s fantastic that we are now one step closer to that reality.
“We are also greatly encouraged by the investment being made in hospitals and motorway services. It is essential that fully- accessible toilets are available here; without them, disabled people may struggle to attend important appointments or visit family and friends.
“We look forward to working with the Government and our campaigners to ensure that Changing Places toilets are available to everyone who needs them.”
The Government intends to consult in the Spring of 2019.