The dignity and hygiene issues of having to change someone on a toilet floor has struck a chord with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, who have taken steps to ensure anyone visiting the premises has appropriate toilet amenities.

As part of a larger refurbishment scheme, Darlington Memorial Hospital has upgraded its outpatient facilities, and included therein a dedicated Changing Places accessible, assisted toilet for anyone who would needs the help of a carer. The Hospital is one of just 12 in the country that has opened a Changing Places toilet facility.

Supplied and installed by Closomat, the UK’s leading disabled toilet solutions provider, the new facility is the result of efforts by the NHS trust’s associate Estates & Facilities Department.

Alison McCree, Associate Director of Facilities explained that she attended a presentation by leading campaigner Margaret Clough.

When Margaret drew our attention to the fact that, , without these purpose-designed accessible toilets, people were otherwise subjected to being changed on a toilet floor, it struck a chord. I wanted to take steps at the Hospital to ensure our visitors were not put in that difficult situation.

And to ensure the new toilet meets the needs of as many people as possible, it incorporates- alongside the standard Changing Places space (12m2) and equipment of a height adjustable adult sized changing bench, hoist, washbasin and privacy screen- a Closomat Palma Vita automatic shower toilet, with a touch sensitive switch.

Looking like, and capable of being used as, a conventional WC, the Palma Vita has in-built washing and drying, triggered by pressure on the integrated flush pads or the touch sensitive switch. Thus the toilet cleans the user after, so the user, or their carer, does not have to manually cleanse with toilet tissue. Cleanliness and hygiene are achieved to a consistent high level.

Over 600 Changing Places toilets are now open across the UK, the majority of which have been supplied by Closomat. The company is unique in being able to offer, in-house, design advice,supply, install, commissioning and ongoing service/maintenance, backed up by in-house project management of a Changing Places toilet or hygiene room. Closomat has used its expertise in the field to produce a white paper on Changing Places toilet provision in general, and specifically the healthcare sector, both of which are available for download on its website.