Improving access to hospital washrooms

Trusts urged to install 'Changing Places' toilets to enhance facilities for patients, staff and visitors

Hospitals are being encouraged to improve provision of accessible washroom facilities by installing ‘Changing Places’ toilets.

The need for innovative facilities is outlined in the British Standard BS8300:2009 Code of practice for the design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people.

For many people who need the help of a carer, a standard accessible toilet is inappropriate, lacking the space and equipment they need. A Changing Places toilet meets their needs and provides an appropriate, hygienic environment

It affects any new-build or refurbishment project and includes guidance on the provision of well-designed accessible sanitary facilities. This includes a new concept – Changing Places toilets - which it says should be installed in any building to which members of the public have access.

A Changing Places toilet involves the creation of a larger, better-equipped accessible facility compared to traditional versions created to meet regulations contained in Document M: Access to and use of buildings, which only address the needs of someone who can toilet unaided.

Each Changing Places toilet aims to meet the needs of people who need a carer to assist, and provides as a minimum:

  • The right equipment, i.e. a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench, height-adjustable wash basin, shower and shower seat, and track or mobile hoist system
  • Enough space to enable manoeuvring for the disabled person and up to two carers, for a centrally-located toilet with room either side for carers, and a screen or curtain to allow some privacy
  • A safe and clean environment, ie wide tear-off paper to cover the bench, a large waste bin and a non-slip floor

Robin Tuffley, marketing manager at supplier, Clos-o-Mat, which supplies Changing Places toilets, told BBH: “One in 284 people in the UK need one of these facilities, yet of the UK’s 2,300 hospitals, only eight have the ‘bigger and better’ accessible disabled facility.”

He added: “For many people who need the help of a carer, a standard accessible toilet is inappropriate, lacking the space and equipment they need. A Changing Places toilet meets their needs and provides an appropriate, hygienic environment.”

To help healthcare estates and facilities managers, the company has recently published a white paper: Provision of Changing Places Accessible Toilets in the Healthcare/Hospitals Industry. It covers the rationale behind a Changing Places toilet, quantifies the need to provide such a facility in healthcare establishments, and covers legislative and ‘good practice’ guidelines. It is available to download from the company’s website.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has opened Changing Places toilets at both the Queens Medical Centre and City Hospital

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