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