We have been talking about the lack of fully inclusive toilets just lately within our group. The topic has been discussed both on our Facebook page and also between members of our meet-up group.
Very often when talking about ‘fully inclusive’ toilets it is assumed that this means toilets for the disabled ie those that usually show a sign like this:-
So what does ‘fully inclusive’ actually mean? The on-line dictionary definition that I looked at has these words to describe the phrase:
“all-in, all-inclusive. with everything included. comprehensive. in toto. overall.across the board.all-encompassing.all-embracing.without exception.
- (of language) deliberately avoiding usages that could be seen as excluding a particular social group.
So now we know what the term means, why is it so different to using the term ‘disabled toilet’.
The difference is that not everyone who has a disability has the same needs when it comes to needing toilet facilities. A toilet cubicle large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and which has grab rails around the toilet and possibly an emergency chord is a great thing if you are able to transfer from a wheelchair and actually sit on a toilet seat. But what about those that cannot transfer or even weight bear? What about those who rely on the use of incontinence pads?
One of our SNUG members describes how this affects her family.
“My grandson, 8 years old, is confined to a wheelchair and unable to sit unaided. We used to be able to change him easily on a baby changer but now he has grown so long, and heavy, this is no longer possible. My son-in-law can still lift him out of the chair but my daughter and I cannot manage it now. This is causing great stress in the family because it impacts on where we can take him and therefore the two other children too. It is very stressful always worrying how you will deal with a soiled pad. Bless his little heart; he tells us when he needs changing and it is heartbreaking when you can’t put a clean pad on him.
In a normal disabled toilet we are expected to change him on the floor. We carry a padded rubber mat with us but it is still really horrible struggle getting him down on the floor in an often cramped and dirty place. I hate it and so does he!! “
As you can see being in a wheelchair does not necessarily mean that toilet facilities marked up as for use by the disabled are going to be suitable for your needs.
Back in 2006 the Changing Places Consortium launched it’s campaign in an effort to get more and more public places to accommodate a toilet that was ‘fully inclusive’. These toilets include a changing bench and hoist suitable for an older child/adult. There are a number of these ‘changing places’ toilets around the UK but nowhere near enough. Ideally a suitable ‘all inclusive’ toilet should be available in every town, theme parks, cinemas etc., so that families can enjoy a day out just like everyone else. For more information and to see what a fully inclusive toilet looks like please click the link and you will be taken to the Changing Places Website
There are a number of campaigns and petitions circulating at the moment and they all rely on your support. Changing Places website even gives details of how people can start their own campaign to get a Changing Places toilet in their home town or a venue they would like to visit but cannot because of the lack of fully inclusive facilities.
Please get involved, I hope that you or your family never have the need to use such facilities but that doesn’t mean that they should not be there for those who do. We never know what the future holds for any of us, but we can try to work towards a better one where everyone’s needs are thought of and catered for.
I will let our SNUG Grandma have the final word…
“A Changing Place toilet has a large changing bench and a hoist. Magic!
There are a number of initiatives to petition for Changing Place toilets in Motorway Services and Supermarkets. They are all superb projects but I am currently favouring one which gets to the heart of the issue; change Planning rules to make It a requirement to include a Changing Place disabled toilet in all major new builds.
Thank you for your interest and support.”
You can sign the petition referred to here Change Building Regulations Petition