Council gives guidance to boost Changing Places Toilets

Cornwall Council has worked with parents and DisAbility Cornwall to develop new guidance to help attractions, large retailers, public buildings and transport hubs to provide Changing Places Toilets.

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A Changing Places Toilet has additional features to a standard accessible toilet and more space to meet the needs of people with profound, complex and multiple disabilities and impairments. They help residents and their families, as well as visitors, to spend time out and about and access every day places.

Cornwall Council’s guidance has been launched to provide advice on planning and installing a Changing Places Toilet for those involved in building new public facing developments as well as those managing existing buildings.

The Council has taken its own advice by making sure that a Changing Places Toilet has been included as part of its redevelopment of Newquay Bus Station.  The bus station, which has undergone a major transformation as part of the Council’s One Public Transport initiative, has two new public toilets.  One of them is fitted to Changing Places standard and includes an electric hoist. The previous toilets had been closed for a number of years.

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport Geoff Brown said: “We are investing in a ‘One Public Transport System for Cornwall’ to make it easier, more attractive and more enjoyable for people to use public transport. What we have achieved by investing in Newquay Bus Station are first class facilities, including a Changing Places Toilet.  This means that people with complex disabilities will be able to spend more time in Newquay and have access to shops and facilities there.” 

A Changing Places Toilet must provide features such as a tracking hoist, a changing bench suitable for adult use which is adjustable and easy to clean, a toilet with drop down support rails and a comfortable temperature.  A bonus is welcoming and interesting decoration with visual contrast to highlight equipment, door frames and door handles.

Tireless campaigners Rachel George and Emily Hudson are both parents of children who need Changing Places facilities.  They have been working with Cornwall Council and with Newquay Town Council on the provision of the Changing Places Toilet at Newquay Bus Station. Both have been at the forefront of raising awareness of the difficulties that people with complex and multiple disabilities face when simply wanting to plan a day out in Cornwall.

Emily says: "A lack of Changing Places Toilet facilities makes a day out for our family impossible or problematic.  So I was thrilled when my conversation with Newquay Town Council about the need for a Changing Place Toilet led to Cornwall Council installing one as part of its refurbishment of Newquay Bus Station. I'm grateful to Cornwall Council for making it happen and hope that the Council’s new guidance will mean that more town centres and attractions in Cornwall will offer these facilities too".

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for Children and Wellbeing Sally Hawken said: “Cornwall Council already has a Changing Places Toilet at County Hall in Truro and at the Council offices in Bodmin which are open to all.  The latest facility in Newquay Bus Station is also welcome but we want to help boost the number of this type of toilet in Cornwall. There are still only a dozen or so available. Places like the Eden Project and Cornwall Services have already taken on board the message that people with complex disabilities need such facilities.”

Cornwall Services’ Changing Places Toilet is probably the most-used in Cornwall. Converted from staff facilities, it has helped establish Cornwall Services as a destination in its own right for local families as well as assisting those travelling through or visiting places in the immediate vicinity. It is free to use and located close to the other toilets. Cornwall Services Manager Alex Lawson explains how their Changing Places Toilet came about and the difference it has made:

“We decided to fit a Changing Places Toilet back in June 2016, after we were approached by one of our customers, Rachel George. Rachel's son, Adam, suffers from a rare neuromuscular disorder, which means he can’t sit unaided, stand or walk. Rachel asked if we would consider installing a Changing Places Toilet that would give Adam the freedom to meet friends at the Services. 

Once Rachel explained how difficult outings can be for families like her own, we wanted to find a solution as quickly as possible.  We settled on converting an existing staff toilet/shower. It has all the vital equipment and was quick to install – it only took a day. Also the cost was not prohibitive and it is regularly used by a large number of customers with a wide range of needs. Adam can now meet up with his friends at the services without the constant worry of not being able to go to the toilet, so it’s life changing for him and for many others.

I hope other destinations in Cornwall see how quickly and easily we were able to do this and decide to follow suit.”


Story posted 13 November 2018