Behind the Scenes – a week in the life of our Changing Places toilets team

Inclusive Communities Director, Fiona Souter manages the Changing Places toilets (CPts) programme for Scotland alongside Campaign Co-ordinator, Laura Rutherford. This World Toilet Day, Fiona takes us through a typical week for PAMIS’ CPT team.

Campaign Co-ordinator, Laura Rutherford
Inclusive Communities Director, Fiona Souter


 I am working from home today and the day starts with an urgent phone call from an architect seeking advice on behalf of a leisure venue who are upgrading their building and want to improve their accessibility facilities, which I always love to hear! We go over layout and equipment options for the planned Changing Places toilets (CPTs), how to achieve the highest standards possible for the pool hoist and accessible changing rooms, door widths and pathways throughout the building as well as signage and parking issues. I pass on some key contacts for NRAC qualified access auditors and am thrilled to hear this is something the venue really want to get right and the latest designs are looking really good. After a much needed morning coffee, I check through my emails. I have three inboxes to manage as we receive a high volume of enquiries so I catch up with Laura on what the priorities are for the day ahead.  Next up I meet with our Occupational Therapy students for a catch up and to go over an equipment review they are involved with. Another urgent call from a venue requiring risk assessment guidance then it is time for lunch at last! The weather is nice so I opt to sit outside in the garden with my two dog Skye. The afternoon passes quickly as I have a supplier meeting and we catch up on new projects, new equipment available and how to improve CPT user experience.  


This morning I deal with any urgent phonecalls and enquiries then head to a quiet room to focus on writing a conference presentation I will be delivering next month. I am also running a conference workshop so I meet with a colleague to go over the format for this and determine the technical requirements. I always find writing presentations takes longer than predicted and soon it is lunchtime. Today the weather is awful so I opt for soup and sarnie indoors! The afternoon is spent drafting a funding application to support work PAMIS are delivering around playparks and play spaces. Next up, a meeting with a cultural venue looking to develop their public programme to include people with profound and multiple learning disabilities which is always exciting and hearing their plans has me feeling enthused about the future opportunities that will soon be available for families to enjoy. I catch up with my team about a new CPT which is finished and ready to open to the public as there are some snagging issues to resolve before we can register the facility and add to the interactive UK map.  


 Today I am out and about on a site visit to meet the project team for a new cultural development, review plans and look at partnership working opportunities for the future. Pleased that the plans are looking spot on and incorporate lessons learned from previous projects. This is the kind of meeting that makes my job so rewarding. The project team are a great bunch and everyone contributes brilliantly. So far, so inspiring. I check my emails afterwards and have some very disappointing and distressing news from a family who have had a ridiculously stressful day out where multiple CPTs were out of order and negative experiences with staff and other members of the public who do not understand hidden disabilities. After speaking with the parents, Laura follows up on their concerns with the venues to get things resolved longer term. We urge venues to let us know should their facilities be out of order so we can alert people on our social media channels and website. This part of my job can be incredibly frustrating and is in stark contrast to my morning meeting. Once back from my site visit I do a further redraft of an article I am writing for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors journal and get if finalised. A family phone late on in the day to discuss accessibility issues they are having on a remote Scottish island where they live and possible solutions. 


Project work this morning as I continue on updating a key publication which provides essential guidance on all aspects of planning and managing a Changing Places toilet. Next up is meeting with CEO, Jenny Miller,  to update her on latest developments at Transport Scotland’s National Accessible Steering Group which PAMIS are part of. We also go over a public consultation response and UK Consortium priorities. I take lots of notes! Next up is brilliant meeting with stakeholders to update on an exciting new project PAMIS are involved in looking to develop and update the design of our mobile CPT so it is better equipped for events across the Scottish islands. Laura and I catch up on outstanding queries and review some more architectural plans.  An urgent enquiry comes in and somehow that is the end of my working day. It passed in a blur.   


Admin time this morning to record enquiries, catch up with the team on anything outstanding, respond to emails I have not had time to deal with earlier in week and update my quarterly reporting documentation. I have a meeting with the Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division to meet some new staff. The rest of the day I am out and about meeting a community group to chat with them about a community asset transfer and support the group with some challenges they are facing. We also have a look at the local beach and consider possibilities for installing beach pathways, different options for all terrain beach wheelchairs and the equipment required to enable people with complex disabilities to have a day out at the beach. We look at different funding options and grants available and I draft a letter of support for their application. Laura and I meet to discuss content and images for campaigner resources and work on developing a training package for some of our volunteers. I am not involved in any of our family activities this weekend and am not out and about with the Pamiloo, our charity vehicle but I am looking forward to watching some rugby and spending time with my family. Every day at PAMIS is so  different and I absolutely love that variety 

Find out more about the work PAMIS does across Scotland supporting people with profound learning and multiple disabilities by following our Facebook page.

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For more information and free advice on installing one of these life changing facilities contact: [email protected]