Why We Need A Revo-loo-tion…

We reached the end of the summer holidays. We visited new places, fighting to see as many tourist attractions as possible before the inevitable occurs, and my daughter’s world shrinks completely forever.

My daughter is eight-years-old, she should have everything to live for, the world should be opening up for her – but because she is disabled the complete opposite is happening and all because of a lack of appropriate toilet facilities in the places we visit.

My daughter is unable to use a standard accessible loo, she needs Changing Places toilets, that include an adult changing bench and hoist, as she is unable to transfer independently from her wheelchair, and she has learning disabilities that mean there’s a possibility that she will never be toilet trained. At the time of writing this, there are only 1,166 registered Changing Places loos in the UK, which may sound a lot, but to put that in perspective there are over 2,500 toilets in Wembley Stadium alone. There are towns and cities around the UK without a single public toilet facility that my daughter can use, when out and about in the community.

At the moment, I am still changing my eight-year-old daughter on baby change facilities. Physically lifting her out of her wheelchair, onto a surface that I pray will hold her weight without breaking. One day I know that even the baby change will no longer be an option. What to do then? Will I have to change her on a toilet floor, or in the back of the car? What happens if my back goes? What if I drop her? Why are these the only options, in the 21st Century, in a so-called civilised country?

Because this is not simply a case of being able to pick and choose where we can go. Our hospital does not have a Changing Place facility, yet we have to attend appointments. And if we limited where we went to, to where Changing Places toilet facilities are available, then life would be very, very limited indeed.

So looking into my daughter’s future, at some point we will have some tough decisions to make… Will my teenage girl have to have a urinary catheter with all the health risks associated with it, or will she instead have to sit in a soiled pad putting her at risk of pressure sores. How the heck are we supposed to deal with menstrual flow, when I can no longer lift her in order to change her sanitary products.

This is not simply a problem for my daughter. There are at least a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK, and their carers, who rely on Changing Places toilets to have their toileting needs met and who are not provided for, even in new large public buildings. Social, educational, health and cultural options restricted by the lack of appropriate loos. Disabled people regularly being denied freedom of choice and dignity.

We need a revo-loo-tion, we need Changing Places to be compulsory in public buildings as they are being built or renovated, you can help to support this by signing this petition. We need outdoor public events to hire mobile Changing Places facilities, such as the Mobiloo. No child should have to face these options as they grow. No parent should have to make these decisions on behalf of their child. No disabled child, teenager or adult should be denied basic dignity. We all need to pee.

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We’re Going On A Bug Hunt…

We’re Going on A Bug Hunt
We’re Going to Catch A Big One…
It’s A Beautiful Day!
We’re Not Scared…

OK we didn’t catch a big one, but it was a beautiful day, as we headed out to Waters Edge Country Park in Barton on Humber. They were having an event day, a wildlife day, with lots of activities for the kids to participate in and stalls to look around. We arrived at 11am which was just too late for us to join the morning sessions, so we had a quick look around the RSPB and Wildlife Trust stalls before sitting down and having a lovely dinner at the cafe. We booked onto a couple of the afternoon activities, pond dipping and bug hunting – both of which will count towards our RSPB Wild Challenge.

Back on out to take a look at the stalls. T took a great interest in the giant tortoises which was one of the exhibits and spent a good 20 minutes or so in their enclosure. E, on the other hand was very taken with a couple of bee ladies who had lots of sensory bee props and spent a good amount of their time engaging with her (thank you, ladies!).

Time for a quick icecream for T and then it was time to meet up with the bug hunt. We were given clipboards, pencils and nets and followed the leader to seek out bugs and beasties. Waters Edge is a nature reserve so it wasn’t long before we were spotting flies, bees and wasps. We found a ladybird in my hair rather than in the wilderness! Dragonflies were spotted and someone even found a toad! The latter was placed into an examination jar so even E could get a good look at it!

Bug spotting and ticking them off on our checklist…

Back to the centre and another quick look around before it was time to join the pond dipping activity. Here the children took it in turns to have a fishing net and to empty the contents into a collection tray to view the various water bugs. Here there was a slope down to the pond, so E couldn’t have done the actual fishing bit, the trays were on higher ground so it was possible for her to see the wildlife scuttling about (we daren’t let her get too close after a past adventure which nearly resulted in her putting a frog in her mouth which has gone into family folklore…). There were water beetles, small fish and even a small newt. All the children were engaged with the activity and it was T’s favourite part of the day.

A little more about Waters Edge, as previously mentioned it is a nature reserve which has ponds and woodland areas. The paths around it are fully wheelchair accessible. They have a Changing Places toilet, with adult changing bench and hoist. The centre is run on green energy, even the Changing Places loo is run on solar power generated electricity and recycled water flushes the system. There is a cafe and a small gift shop. There are fabulous views of the Humber Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the UK, which is located right next to the centre. The centre runs various events over the year as well as craft activities, click here for more details. Worth a visit.

Having a Changing Places loo meant we could stay all day and meant my disabled daughters toileting needs were met with dignity.

 

If you’d like to support the campaign for more Changing Places facilities, please sign and share our petition

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside…

Gorgeous morning, blue skies, this neverending summer continuing the way it started and we’re just at the start of the summer holidays…

Bags packed, pack up sorted. Into the car, and over the River Humber we head.

Are we nearly there yet, the constant refrain from the back. But then yes we are. Today we’re at Bridlington. Down to the Park & Ride, and we spot our first Changing Places loo. then it’s a quick ride to the centre of town.

I fed E her dinner while Col fetched the rest of us fish and chips (possibly the best ones I’ve tasted this year)… And then I changed E in the second Changing Places loo of the day.

Changing Places toilet, Bridlington, near the harbour.

Down to South beach, thwarted in the first attempt to get on the beach by the tide, (but would have been an excellent place for us to try crabbing…) We found another ramp and away we went. Col pushed E in her offroad buggy which he reckons was easier than her normal wheelchair. We reached the sea, got E out to dip her toes in the sea (we’d love to sit her in the sea but she would just drink the seawater…). T running in and out, jumping and splashing around. We took a steady walk along the beach and back to the promenade. We quickly found a paddling pool. Not wheelchair friendly as there was a step down, but we took E out of her buggy and she sat on the edge and splashed with her hands and feet. T just got absolutely soaked and ended up wearing one of E’s tops for the rest of the day…

Another walk, we found beach wheelchairs to hire, as well as a 3rd Changing Places toilet. On we continued,as a boatride was in our sights. This was definitely NOT wheelchair accessible, but while we can still carry E we shall carry on enjoying rides out on the sea. So we headed out  on the Yorkshire Belle, for a very pleasant journey, a much needed drink, and a chocolate bar each! T spotted the fairground from the boat, so as soon as we got back to dry land, that’s where he and Col headed, while I sat and fed E her tea. Then it was our turn to join them.

Onto the teacups, the swings and the cars. Giggles were had, prizes were won on the Hook A Duck. All within the walking distance of yet another Changing Places loo! It was time to head back, back onto the Park & Ride. Back to the car and then back home.

I want to thank Bridlington, who so far have got 4 registered Changing Place toilet facilities, I’m sure one of the ones we used or saw today was an unregistered facility. For those not in the know, Changing Places toilets include an adult changing bench, hoist & loo, there are many towns and cities without a single facility. Today we did not have to stress about where we would be able to get E changed as there was always a Changing Place toilet facility nearby, and that is how it should be everywhere we go… Massive thumbs up Bridlington! I hope others will read this and follow your lead…

If you’d like to see more Changing Places toilets then please do sign and share our petition, everyone regardless of ability deserves dignity.

The Girl She Was Always Meant To Be…

8 years ago, my beautiful daughter, E, made her arrival into the world. I knew that my world had changed, she was the one that made me a mum. I jumped into the new world of baby groups with relish, we wiggled and giggled, made new friends, watched as their babies achieved their milestones and waited for my daughter to do the same. And waited, and waited, and waited…

My daughter, for her part was doing her best, trying to sit, but unable she spent hours upon hours upon hours doing the equivalent of baby abdominal crunches, her legs hyperextending before her. It was not until the 6-9 month health visitor check that it really began to be obvious that E was unable to do things that many babies less than her age did with ease, and we were finally referred to a paediatrician. On examining her, he said that it was likely that she would have physical and learning disabilities, but we would need to watch and wait to find out how severe these might be. She was labelled as having global development delay (an umbrella term for a child that is not meeting their milestones), this would be the only label that she would have until she was 7 years old.

We were offered no support at this time, we were left to walk out of the appointment into a whole new world, no leaflets, no contact numbers for people we could speak to, it was very much a case of being very much left to fend for ourselves…

We began to get more and more appointments. E was already under the audiologist as she consistently failed to pass the standard hearing tests (she would be making too much noise, or she would pull the earplugs out, or be too unsettled to try). But now we were also seeing the physios, occupational therapists, we had portage early learning for a few months, speech and language therapists. She had tests done, she was prodded and poked, bloods taken none of which provided a satisfactory answer as to why she was missing her milestones. We were eventually seen by a geneticist, who took pictures, and gave us information regarding the Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) project. We were given sample pots to spit in and sent them off. It would still be a few years before we would get a result, and there are many families out there that are still waiting.

Whilst all this was going on, we still attended the playgroups. People started asking what was wrong with my child (the phrasing of this still bothers me today, I would turn it round and say, Do you mean what condition does she have?). To which then I would have to explain that we had no diagnosis, but that she was delayed in meeting her milestones and was still undergoing tests. People were surprised that the doctors were unable to give us answers, and often would give us their own opinions…

Life continued, the tests diminished. We welcomed another child, T, into the world. We discovered a support group, SWAN UK that supports all those families who have undiagnosed children, who have been incredible in letting us know that we are not alone, and who gave us the opportunity to meet other families who were in exactly the same boat, and going through the same challenges. My daughter remained a SWAN (Syndrome Without A Name), for another couple of years.

Then last year, the almost unthinkable happened. After waiting for 7 years, we finally got a diagnosis. We were called in to see the geneticist. A result had come up from the DDD study. E was diagnosed as having Baraitser-Winter Syndrome. There were only 50 documented cases worldwide at that time, and of those some have a different variant to E.

So has a diagnosis changed anything? Not really. We have a label. But because it is so rare, we still have no real prognosis as to how this will affect her in the long-term.

We know that it occurred spontaneously in her (de novo). But,she remains the same girl as she was the day before we got the diagnosis. A happy little girl, who loves horse-riding, Brownies, the wind in her hair and the sand between her toes, she is the girl with the infectious giggle. The girl she was always meant to be, who we love to the end of the world, and always will.

I wrote this blog for SWAN UK as part of Chromosome Disorders Awareness Week in 2018. Please check out their website, they are an invaluable charity who support families with undiagnosed children who have suspected genetic conditions.

Inclusive Home

Making A Promise…

Flossie has been in the Brownies for about a year now, and recently it was her turn to make her Brownie Guide promise. For most mums this would have signalled a week of getting their daughter to memorise the Brownie promise and law. But how to achieve this when your daughter is not only non-verbal, but also doesn’t do Makaton…

While Flossie is getting better at communication it is mostly on her own terms, tugging at our trouser legs is generally a big hint that she wants to be picked up, or if she’s in her wheelchair, she’ll get hold of our hands and pull them towards her. If I give her a choice of puddings then cake is always her favourite, followed by jelly and as a last resort she’ll eat fruit puree (I really can’t fault her for this, I would make the same choices!). But making a statement of intention or a promise is beyond her capabilities, but we did kind of make it happen…

I borrowed one of her communication switches from school and recorded the Brownie promise onto it, and put a picture of a Brownie Guide badge on it to signal what this was for. The night before I introduced her to it. She thought it was quite funny and kept pressing the button which meant that it kept stopping and starting, I actually began to worry that her promise might take about 10 minutes at the rate she was going!

On the actual night though, all went to plan. Another Brownie skipped round the circle of the group with me and Flossie in tow, we stopped at the leader, Flossie was span round in her wheelchair, and then she pressed the button, cocked her head and listened while she received her Brownie Guide badge and officially became a member of the Hedgehog six. One very proud mummy here and a lesson for the other Brownies who will have learnt a little more about communication devices.

Inclusive Home

Dear NHS – Please Provide Toilets That My Daughter Can Safely Use

Dear NHS

Disabled toilets in the main are completely inaccessible for my daughter, she is unable to maintain a sitting balance and is incontinent which means that she requires a changing bench and hoist in order to be toileted. She is just one of approximately 250,000 people in the UK for whom this is an issue.

The majority of hospitals and other health care centres do not cater for people like my daughter when they are visiting out-patients departments, or visiting friends and relatives. Usually only a standard disabled toilet is provided, this means that often the only option for her, and others like her, is to be changed in an inappropriate place without appropriate equipment, thus leaving her and myself open to acute injury. While this is definitely a health and safety issue, it would be against all advice given regarding moving and handling techniques if she was an inpatient in hospital.

The Equality Act of 2010 states that reasonable adjustments have to be made for disabled toilets to be accessible. I would say that it is never reasonable for a disabled child, teenager or adult to have to be laid on a public toilet floor to be changed which is often the only option available to them and their carers, other than leaving them sitting in their own body waste for prolonged periods of time. It certainly flies in the face of infection control protocol, can contribute to pressure ulcer formation, and delay healing when pressure ulcers are already present. It means that the most vulnerable members of society, who are likely to be frequent visitors to health care settings due to their pre-existing conditions and who are often also immuno-suppressed are being treated as second class citizens with a lack of dignity and respect because they are unable to fulfil a basic need, that the rest of us take for granted, in a safe, humane and timely manner.

I’m asking you to look at what facilities you have for outpatients and disabled visitors at your hospitals, clinics, GP centres and other health care settings. I’m asking you to consider installing a Changing Places toilet (with changing bench, hoist and enough space for carers) at the earliest opportunity, suggested as best practice for healthcare settings such as hospitals, health centres & community practices under BS8300/2009, and now also mentioned in HBN 00-02.

Please remember that you have a duty of care, not only to your inpatients, but to outpatients, their carers and their significant others. Please help provide Changing Places toilets, for the dignity and respect of outpatients and visitors at all your healthcare settings.

For more details regarding Changing Places toilets please click this link

http://www.changing-places.org/

Yours sincerely

Lorna Fillingham

Please sign the petition.

My 7 year old Disabled Child is NOT a Baby

This might be a weird thing to have to declare, but it seems to be something that I have to tell people on a regular basis.

“My daughter is 7 years old, she is NOT a baby” 

Although my daughter is a wheelchair user, she is obviously not baby sized. Granted she is small for her age, so you might actually think she is 5 or 6, but certainly not a baby.

And yet, wherever we seem to go, whenever I ask if there is anywhere that I can change my daughter’s nappy (she has severe learning disabilities which means that she may never be toilet trained), we are nearly always directed to the nearest baby changer. Often with a maximum age or weight that my daughter exceeds, and which is therefore too dangerous for us to use.

Ideally what we are after is a Changing Places toilet, with adult changing bench and hoist. My daughter could safely have her needs met there, but there are currently only 1060 registered Changing Places facilities in the whole of the UK. A situation that I am trying to change, you can sign and share my petition here.

Changing Places toilet facilities have been recommended in British Standards in large public buildings since 2009. Yet I have been directed to baby change facilities in recent times at a huge shopping centre, at a museum that was renovated at huge cost last year, and still as of yet there is no Changing Place toilet facility at our local hospital where my daughter has most of her appointments. It really is time for change. Please do sign the petition, and if you’re on Twitter then please retweet this tweet to your MP asking them to support the Changing Places campaign. Thank you

A Modern Christmas Carol…

It was a cold and wintry night as Scrooge sat in his counting house counting out all of his money. He’d made profits last Christmas as all the major retailers had. But Scrooge wanted more.

In the corner Bob Cratchit slaved over the paperwork. His thoughts were at home, where his son Tiny Tim was ailing. The daily struggles of having to carry and lift their disabled child were taking the toll on his poor wife at home. The family were particularly struggling when they went out, as even at the big shops there were no toilets that provided for Tiny Tim’s needs. Tiny Tim needed a Changing Places loo, with a changing bench and hoist, without these he had to be laid down on the toilet floor and have his nappy changed. This was no good for Tiny Tim or his mum. Mrs Cratchit’s back ached everytime she had to lift him out of the wheelchair, but her heart ached even more. “Surely someone must care and put an end to this situation”, she cried. But her cries went unheeded, even though she spoke to the business owners, they all chose to turn a blind eye. While Tiny Tim’s health turned from bad to worse and any germs festering on the toilet floor could be the end of him. Tim was also beginning to feel that he was worthless, surely he deserved better than this…

Bob plucked up courage, cap in hand with head bowed, he walked over to his boss. “Please Sir”, he stuttered. “Please would you install a Changing Places toilet, in your very large store?”. Scrooge stared him down: “Bah humbug! I will do no such thing. Why should I spend our huge profits on your disabled child? Now get back to your work you snivelling wretch”.

Bob returned to his desk, tears rolling down his cheek, he felt beaten, no-one would listen to their situation, NOBODY cared.

Evening drew in. Bob went back to his family and told his wife that he felt he had let her down again. In his huge mansion Scrooge retired to bed.

The clock chimed midnight, and a ghostly chill fell on Scrooges bedside. The Ghost of Christmas Past turned his steely eye on Scrooge. “You don’t need to provide these toilets, people with disabilities rarely come out shopping, no-one needs to provide for them. Whatever will they think of next electric wheelchairs?”. He wafted out. Scrooge tossed and turned and drifted back to sleep.

Another hour passed. The curtains blew and the chill once again took over Scrooges bedroom. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. There are a lot more people with disabilities visiting us these days, all these mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs seem to have made a change, and they all have money to spend. I think though that this year we will make a token effort with the Changing Places toilets. Just put one into one of our many stores and say that we’re trialling it, that should fob any whiny Cratchits off, lets put it at the other end of the country though, we don’t want Bob to feel that he’s achieved anything”. With that the Ghost of Christmas Present chuckled to himself as did Scrooge.

Now traditionally, a further ghost visits. But in this story, the future is down to you. A lack of appropriate toilet facilities for disabled people in the UK affects one in 260 of the population. The situation Tiny Tim and Mrs Cratchit found themselves in is happening in towns and cities all around the UK every day. Currently this means that people with disabilities are being changed on toilet floors or in the back of cars, or left in soiled pads for prolonged periods of time or quite simply are unable to go out at all. Ikea and Wetherspoons are the only businesses that have committed to providing more Changing Place toilets in their premises, that would have enabled Tiny Tim to use the toilet in a dignified and humane way. If these businesses can do it, then so can others if they care enough.

In total there are only 9 supermarkets with Changing Places toilet facilities in the UK, many large shopping malls also don’t have these facilities. Campaigners are fighting for change. Up to now businesses have chosen to turn a blind eye to the inhumane situation that their customers have found themselves in, despite repeated requests for them to provide these facilities. You can help bring about change. Please sign these petitions, calling for supermarkets, shopping centres and other retail outlets to provide these facilities. The more awareness, the less that we can be ignored.

Petition calling for Changing Places toilets to be compulsory in shopping centres and other large public buildings.

Petition calling for supermarkets and other large retailers to include Changing Place toilet facilities.

Make everyone’s Christmas a happy one, Thank you x

 

 

Lucy At Home

Even Our Hospital Doesn’t Have A Toilet That We Can Safely Use

My seven year old daughter needs the loo, nothing unusual there, we all do on average 4-6 times a day, more so if you’re a small child. Most places we go there is a loo that we can use, if there isn’t a public toilet available when we go out, then we nip somewhere to eat and use their loo while we’re at it. Pubs, cafes, cinemas, supermarkets, theatres and shopping centres all provide toilets for their customers. I mean who would visit if they didn’t? There would be an uproar! However they do not provide toilets for my daughter.

 Even my local hospital doesn’t provide a toilet that my daughter can safely use.

Now I bet you are thinking that I live in a 3rd world country, but no I live in the UK.

My daughter happens to have physical and learning disabilities. She is a wheelchair user, unable to stand or walk unsupported. In order to have her continence needs met then she needs a Changing Places toilet facility, which has a standard toilet but also has a hoist and adult changing bench. Currently I can lift her out of her wheelchair, but one day that will change, she is only going to get bigger and heavier. Currently I do a risk assessment on the baby change facilities available, will it take her weight? Do I risk putting her on there? Can I risk leaving her in a wet nappy if I don’t think it will take her weight? And some days I have to just have to grin and bear it, kneel on a public toilet floor, lift her out of her wheelchair, stand her against me and hope that her legs don’t give way and change her nappy that way. Luckily she does have some muscle tone, otherwise it would be her laid on the toilet floor…

There are an estimated 250,000 people in this country who have the same problem as us, along with their families and carers. People who are living with cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease, who have an acquired head injury or those whose mobility has suffered due to cancer. Children, teenagers, adults and pensioners. Many with low immune systems, or with invasive equipment such as feeding tubes and catheters. Their carers having to use manual moving and handling techniques that are considered too dangerous for nurses and paid carers to use in hospital, and yet there is little choice out in the community for carers, paid or unpaid. For those that are unlucky enough to be too heavy to lift, then the choice is to sit in an incontinence pad for hours at a time, or not to venture far from home.

For those that would say I would never lie my child on a toilet floor. Remember this. There are just over 1000 registered Changing Places facilities in the whole of the UK. Many towns and cities do not have a single facility that my daughter can use. There are only a handful of supermarkets in the whole of the UK with these facilities, we all have to shop and even with the power of internet shopping things get forgotten and are needed.

Last year there were less than 40 hospitals in the whole of the UK with a registered Changing Places toilet facility, obviously this is somewhere we would love to avoid visiting but sadly is somewhere we have to visit on a very frequent basis. It means that when we are visiting outpatients’ departments or visiting relatives, there is simply nowhere that we can “go” with dignity.

Not one single person on this planet can opt out of the need to use the loo, and when nature calls we all have to answer.

I want my daughter to be able to live a very happy and fulfilled life, to truly be a part of her community. She already is a member of her local Brownies, she loves horse riding, she attends mainstream as well as SN school. She loves going to the theatre, to country fayres and just being out with her friends and family.

But I worry constantly that she is slowly going to disappear from her community, all through the lack of toilet facilities that she can use.

One day she is going to be to heavy to lift, one day we will just not be able to manage anymore.

I have written to to the Prime Minister to various Government departments. Change is very slow in happening…

My own council have been very supportive and have increased the number of Changing Places facilities in the area from 2 to 9, with more to come with new developments and renovations.

I have written to every council in Great Britain asking them to do the same, I have emailed every hospital trust in England asking them to include these facilities for visitors to their hospitals. I have a petition calling for Changing Places facilities to be included in new large public buildings, please sign and share it.

Inclusion means much more than building ramps. If we’re going to have an inclusive society at least build the very toilets that EVERYONE can use, don’t let the most vulnerable end up on the toilet floor…

How can you Help?

If you have had similar problems when visiting hospital then please make a complaint at your local PALS office and also share your views with Healthwatch .

Please contact your MP if there are a lack of facilities in your area.

Sign and share this petition

Above all, please don’t think that you wont be listened to, the more of us that speak out, the harder we are to ignore…

Eureka, Children’s Museum – Where Inclusion Happens…

Well, we have had a fabulous day out today. It didn’t look promising this morning. Ben had a full blown sobfest when we mentioned that we were going to a museum (he loves museums, he just wanted to go to our local one…). He was also upset that it wasn’t yet Halloween, another full week to wait for that one mister… Anyway, all of that commotion aside, we set off on a journey down the motorway, to Halifax, home of Eureka, the national children’s museum.

Ben had never been, Flossie last came on a school trip a couple of years ago. We were directed to the disabled parking, and found it was free for blue badge holders (yay!). We joined the queue to pay, which didn’t take too long to go down. Admission price paid (essential carers get free admission), we hired a set of ear defenders for the day for Flossie, which Ben immediately requisitioned for himself and then we started our visit.

We entered the Soundscape zone, where several individual sound stations were located, all wheelchair accessible. Everything had lots of buttons, nearly all of these buttons made a noise or lit up lights, Flossie was in a very happy place indeed. The more popular machines were impossible to get close to, it was half term, it was full of exuberant kids, we did come back later in the day when it had calmed down a touch and got to have a full, proper explore.

A small walk away, we explored the water fountain, and found a hurricane simulator. Well we couldn’t turn down that opportunity, Flossie LOVES the wind in her hair… Col and Ben chickened out, we ventured in. I was quite glad that I carried Flossie in as in the end I used her as a wind shield, while she buried her head into my shoulder and giggled… Out we tumbled, looking flustered!

Then we sent the kids to work. Time was spent on the tills in the shop, then around to the cars and mechanics department where Ben took the wheel off a car and Flossie did a bit of driving. Into the bank where Ben used the CCTV cameras to search for the rest of us. All good fun, but the most important thing was that Flossie was able to participate too, it might have been in her own way, but there was no obstacles in getting her wheelchair into the places we wanted, and that included the cars on this particular floor.

Round to the cafe for dinner, and then to the Changing Places toilet, with adult changing bench and hoist, to get Flossie sorted. These type of facilities are extremely rare in our public places, but they are the only type of loo where Flossie can be sorted with dignity (so Thank You, Eureka, for including one).

Upstairs we went to the All About Me section. We stretched to find our arm span, and stood tall to find our height. We watched a couple of short films which as well as the usual verbal and visual content also had British sign language interpreters. More buttons to press. Lots of interactive stuff to show how our bodies work, how babies grow, how senses work. Fabulous stuff.

Further down the corridor there was a craft session on, we didn’t actually get involved with that but they had rugs on the floor and treasure baskets so it was an opportune moment to give Flossie some rollaround time out of her wheelchair before moving on again.

Into the bedroom, into the sensory tunnel, stars on one wall and an infinity mirror on another. Very, dark, I initially thought that Ben would refuse to go through, but then he made us go through about 5 times. Stopping only to play by a huge water tray. Flossie could access this too, and enjoyed splashing, and it was a good 5-10 minutes before she leaned far enough over to get her face into the water (it’s a Flossie thing…), at that point I quickly moved her away and showed her water where she couldn’t actually get access to it at a “how your toilet works” exhibit.

Back along the corridor to the Spark Gallery. Again very dark, but lots of interactive light and art things going on, Flossie was in her element again. Back to the lift, past a bat on stilts (yes, you did read that right, lots of Halloweenie stuff going on too this week…). Downstairs, in time for a bit of a monster show at the theatre. A gunky, gross exploration of the skeletal, cardiovascular and gastric systems done in a way that the kids loved.

Back to the cafe, another quick explore, a stop at the gift shop and then time to go home after what has been a very enjoyable day.

First point to note was that it was VERY busy, and therefore VERY loud. Sometimes this bothers Flossie, sometimes it doesn’t. Today she was mostly OK and I think that was mostly due to the fact that she was kept occupied for so much of the day. Ear defenders are available and it did get quieter as the afternoon wore on. We were able to access everything, it really was one of the most inclusive venues that we’ve ever been to. Thank you Eureka, we will be back!

If you’ve read this blog, then please sign and share this petition, calling for Changing Places toilets to be made available in larger public buildings, thank you.