We would hope that the people who deliver the buildings we visit in our leisure have a degree of intelligence. I appreciate they have a huge number of Regulations to consider, but why, in this age of an inclusive society, is there a prevailing inability to recognise that if you accommodate the needs of our growing disabled, elderly population, custom increases?
Latest figures show 11million people in the UK are now disabled. That’s 20% of the population. For many of them doing something special, let alone something basic like going shopping, stopping for a coffee, isn’t possible because of their toilet requirements. They may need the help of a carer. They may need changing. They may be unable to transfer from a wheelchair unaided, and need lifting. ‘Normal’ ‘disabled’ toilets don’t fit the bill. They need extra space and equipment.
We understand that there are major commercial decisions involved in the provision of toilet facilities- primarily those of space and cost. But if your business relies on people spending time with you to be profitable, why deliberately exclude a proportion of customers? You’ll provide a baby change without even thinking about it.
Yet look at the numbers: there have been 2.1million births in England & Wales in total in the past three years. That’s a fifth of the number of disabled people.
A ceiling track hoist takes up no more space. A changing bench does require a couple of m2. It doesn’t have to be a whole, additional WC facility; it can just be an addition in the obligatory unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet.
But how many more people will visit, and spend, if you accommodate them? And they are usually accompanied, so it’s at least twice the custom. They will tell their friends. Who will tell their friends.
Yes there is a capital cost. But there is with every other fixture and fitting. Do you analyse its contribution to profit before committing to it?
And does it make you feel good, to be enabling someone to have a good time out, who otherwise might never get to go out for more than an hour in case they need the loo?
Do you ‘get’ why it actually pays to accommodate everyone? Start with the many, and work back to the few…