Changing Places are springing up all over the UK, and it’s for a good reason! Whether you have heard of them or not, Changing Places are becoming the accepted standard as an accessible toilet and public venues will be expected to have them readily available.
Transport hubs, including train stations, are an ideal place to provide better facilities for people with disabilities. So what are Changing Places, and why should you install one?
What are Changing Places?
Changing Places are growing in popularity, but you still may not have heard of them. The Changing Places campaign was launched in 2006 with the mission to raise awareness of just how poorly-equipped disabled access toilet are for the wider disabled community.
The campaign estimates that there are over a quarter of a million people whose needs are not met by standard accessible toilets. This will include people with profound and multiple learning and physical disabilities like motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.
How are Changing Places different?
Changing Places are safer, more hygienic, and better-equipped than standard disabled access toilets. They give people with disabilities a fully-equipped, dignified place to use the toilet and be changed if necessary.
Changing Places are kitted out with standard things like a toilet and sink, but they also include more specialist items. Adult-sized changing benches and ceiling track hoists are also required. A ceiling track hoist is used to lift the person and move them wherever needed in the room. It is key to providing safe accessibility and dignity to the person using the Changing Place.
Why are they needed in train stations?
Imagine you have been on the train from Leeds to London for about two and a half hours. You are desperate for the toilet, but you cannot use the toilets on the train because they don’t have enough space or equipment for you, your wheelchair, and your carer to fit in there comfortably.
By the time you get to Kings Cross and the find the standard disabled access toilet, it’s filthy. You need to get changed, but your carer can’t find anything for you to lay on and instead you must lay on the floor. It’s unhygienic. It’s undignified. It’s unnecessary.
This is why Changing Places are needed in train stations. The Government estimates that in 2016-2017, there were over 99 million entries and exits through Waterloo Station. That equates to just short of 2 million a week. How many of those do you think were disabled travellers? And how many of them had to use inadequate facilities because there was no Changing Place available?
How will my rail station benefit from a Changing Place?
First and foremost, if your station chooses to install a Changing Place then you will be in keeping with the Equality Act 2010. Changing Places will soon be required in all major public places, so rail stations should be taking steps now to safeguard themselves for future changes.
Your station could also see financial benefits. It is estimated that there are around 7 million people of working age with disabilities in the UK, and the spending power of this demographic is reckoned to worth about £249 billion.
That spending power could bring extra ticket sales and retail sales to your station. It could increase the number of passengers you serve. We’re already using ramps to get on and off trains and around the station, so why not Changing Places?
How will other people benefit from it?
Other than being given a safe and dignified facility, people with disabilities will be offered a whole new host of opportunities thanks to your train station. They can take advantage of new things beyond their doorstep.
People can travel farther afield than before and explore new places that they didn’t have the chance to visit before. It could even give someone a chance to visit their friends and family more easily, with the peace of mind that they have everything they’ll need at your station.
How do you get a Changing Place?
Getting a Changing Place installed in your station is not as difficult as it may seem. Some Changing Places specialists, such as Innova Care Concepts, can offer the whole package; design, sourcing the equipment, installing, servicing, and maintenance of the entire facility.
The way it works is a Changing Places specialist or consultant can meet and chat with the facilities manager. They then would visit the site where the Changing Place is to be installed, measure up, and make sure that the space can be made compliant.
The consultant draws up some blueprints that will include all necessary equipment for the Changing Place and will review it with you (the client). Once the order has been placed, the installation teams will plan around your schedule and can have your Changing Place fitted within three days. It really is that straightforward.
So now you know more about Changing Places and what they provide to people with disabilities, will you be taking the next step to installing one? They are mandatory in Premiership football stadiums and many public venues all around the UK, and rail stations will be one of the next stops on the list. Take action now and provide adequate facilities that you know will be appreciated!
By Richard Smaldon, Changing Places Consultant, Innova Care Concepts