Why are Changing Places important?

Most of us think nothing of visiting public toilets, already knowing that they’ll meet our needs, but many disabled people are unable to participate in activities that we may take for granted due to standard accessible toilets not meeting their needs. In the UK, there are over 230,000 people who need personal assisstance to go to the toilet, but the lack of specialist accessible toilets and changing rooms is making this increasingly difficult for them. Would you like to have to change your close family member on the uncleaned floor of a public toilet?

Changing places toilets are essential for disabled people – as well as their families and friends – since they allow them to take part in their local communities. With these, they are given a sense of independence, not having to rely solely on their carer to take complete care of them in these private situations. They often save them the embarrassment of having to get changed in unhygienic, uncomfortable places, giving them a safe place to carry out what they need to do.

Unfortunately, there is just 1,000 changing places in the UK, often leaving people without one for miles. Having a changing room in the local community will greatly benefit both disabled people and their families. The number of people with complex disabilities is growing, and we are living longer – so more people are likely to rely on these accessible changing places in the future.

‘British Standard 8300:2009 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people’ recommends that Changing Places toilets should be included in larger public buildings and complexes. The government also recommends that local authorities should provide Changing Places toilets, under the guidance ‘Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets’. 

At the moment, the Changing Places Consortium is campaigning for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all big public places – like shopping centres, city centres, hospitals, service stations, airports and railway stations. We believe that Changing Places toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets, becasue accessibility should be a priority, for everyone.

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