Over 250,000 people in the UK will directly benefit from the UK Government’s decision, which will see an estimated 150 buildings per year equipped with large, well-equipped toilet facilities from 2021.
The policy was introduced, alongside a £30 million fund to support venues in achieving the target, after thousands of cases were reported in which disabled people were forced to modify behaviour or simply avoid attending certain venues due to a lack of provision.
“For too long, the lack of Changing Places toilets has meant that severely disabled people have faced severe difficulties in attending public places,” notes building accessibility minister Lord Greenhalgh. “Changing Places toilets give disabled people and their carers the space and equipment they need to have the confidence to leave their homes and go out.”
Drinking little or no water to ensure a toilet visit wasn’t required, remaining in soiled clothing until returning home and having to be changed by a carer or relative on a dirty toilet floor were amongst the regular examples of how the design of public spaces across Britain isn’t working for many people.
Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets – approximately 12m² according to the new policy – and include equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.
Rob Burley, director of campaigns for care and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, says the announcement is “huge news for the quarter of a million people in the UK who need Changing Places toilets”.
Having access to these facilities, he adds, “increases independence and improves quality of life” and opens up a range of activities that many people take for granted on a daily basis.