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England announces Changing Places to be compulsory from 2021

After months of various lockdowns and phased easing of restrictions across the globe, people are once again starting to venture outside the walls of their homes. Short trips to the shops, spending hours relaxing in the parks or even going on staycations, we are beginning to enjoy the outdoors again. Many of us know that days out can be ruined or abruptly cut short if suitable public sanitary facilities are not available.

One group affected greatly by this issue is people with severe disabilities who require assistance from care givers. To avoid needing to use the restroom when out in public because suitable sanitary facilities are not readily available, people with severe disabilities will restrict what they eat or drink and risk dehydration and urinary tract infections. When the need to use the restroom is overwhelming and there is no suitable facility, people can be left sitting in soiled clothing or dirty nappies until a suitable toilet is found or they return home. This issue highlights that public spaces need to more suitably designed for people with disabilities so they can take part and enjoy the world without fear of discomfort or embarrassment.

To help improve accessibility, the UK government has recently announced that starting from 2021, Changing Places will be a requirement in the designs of all new public buildings within England. Changing Places are 12m2 sanitary facilities that are designed to be used by people with severe disabilities with the assistance of a care giver. The rooms are fitted with a toilet bowl, ceiling track hoist and height adjustable changing bench and sink. Following the government announcement, public buildings such as shopping centres, supermarkets sports and museums, will all require at least one Changing Place to be incorporated within the design.

A day out or a trip to the shops should not be ruined by the absence of suitable sanitary facilities. England’s new requirement is a step forward to help remove a barrier for people with severe disabilities.

For further information on England’s move to make changing places compulsory, click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changing-places-toilets-for-severely-disabled-people-to-be-compulsory-in-new-public-buildings

Alternatively, if you need further information on how to make facilities or services more accessible and inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].