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The Importance of Changing Places | World Toilet Day 2018.
The following piece has been written by Lady Kerry Thompson, disability and lifestyle blogger and Changing Places Campaign, Fi Anderson, disability Mummy blogger and Transport Ambassador for MDUK, and Emma Muldoon, accessible travel blogger and Mobiloo Ambassador from Scotland. We’re a group of friends who fight a very similar battle for accessible toilets – specifically, Changing Places.
World Toilet Day 2018 is coming up, and we’re here to tell you about the importance of truly accessible toilets and how Changing Places are paving the way for dignity and inclusion!
For most people leaving their house, it's a simple task of just grabbing keys and making sure you have money and locking the door behind you - but for disabled individuals and their families, it’s a completely different scenario.
Just wheeling out the front door can be a military operation. Think of it like being taking a new-born out with everything but the kitchen sink. It can fill you with so much anxiety that utter panic can set in.
Is there going to be a disabled toilet big enough for me, my wheelchair and partner? Am I going to be hit on the head by a baby changing table? Are the toilets going to be clean, out of order or used as a storage cupboard? Am I going to have to limit my fluid intake? Do I need to limit how long I'm out for? What if I simply don't make it home in time?
It's not helped by non-disabled people thinking they can use disabled toilets for their own needs, leaving dirty footprints on the floors, toilet roll everywhere, or none at all. Why is it now classed as acceptable to do this to another human being? Surely going to the toilet is everyone's basic human right?
Standard disabled toilets are outdated; a red pull cord (which are always being tied up out the way which is a big no-no, as they’re then useless if somebody falls), and a few grab rails just don't cut the mustard anymore.
Now, we always make sure we have plenty of Euan’s Guide Red Cord Cards in our bags to hang on red emergency cords that we see tied up and out of reach in accessible toilets. Even if the cord isn’t tied up, these cards are a great way to inform people of the importance of emergency cords and why they need to hang freely all the way to the floor.
There are more and more children and adults with complex disabilities. Having a hoist is a must, and having space to move around either side of the loo (as not everyone transfers on the same side) and for those needing two carers and a height adjustable changing bench.
Why are we being told we can't live our best lives just because we're disabled and there isn't a Changing Places toilet for our needs? We are just like everyone else wanting to do a day at the zoo, theme park, the seaside, see the beautiful countryside and historic buildings, watch our favourite band or singer.
That’s when mobile accessible toilets like Mobiloo come in and saves the day, allowing us and our families to enjoy days out when establishments lack adequate accessible toilet facilities. Mobiloo can attend the event so that we don’t have to miss out on the fun or cut the day short and go home because we can’t use the toilet. However, there aren’t enough mobile accessible toilets, so businesses need to wake up and start valuing their disabled customers by providing Changing Places.
Ask yourself these questions:
Would you, a dignified adult, happily use a dirty toilet with a broken seat, smelling like it hasn't been cleaned in a long time?
If your baby or toddler needed changing, would you use a dirty toilet floor?
Would you lie down an elderly parent or loved-one with dementia or Parkinson's that same filthy floor to deal with their continence needs?
Or would you simply not take them out at all?
Do you think you would need to make a choice between dignity and inclusion in society? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!