Many of ‘our’ campaigners for away from home toilets with a bench and hoist are mothers of children with complex needs, children who have now grown, are becoming adolescents, and are too big for conventional baby change tables.
Yet because they have obviously young children they find that many people don’t properly understand their message, and criticise them for not having toilet-trained their child. Or, because their child is in a wheelchair, they are told to use wheelchair-accessible toilets.
The issue of appropriate toilet facilities goes way beyond that.
There are, potentially, up to 14million people who need a toilet facility that is not covered by the common provision of male, female, wheelchair-accessible or baby-change. They need more space, or lifting, or a changing bench. They may not need all of those elements: for example, approximately six million people suffer from bowel incontinence. Not all are in a wheelchair, but they all need the space, facilities to change pads or nappies. Many wheelchair users need help to transfer from their wheelchair to the toilet- they need their carer to lift them, and perhaps the carer needs the help of a hoist…
Regulations already say that, where space is limited, the toilet provision should be a unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet. That then excludes mothers of infants who need a baby change. The view is, that one unisex wheelchair-accessible meets the needs of the majority.
If that one criteria was amended, so that one facility also included an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist, it would instantly meets the needs of so many more. It only needs less space than is currently taken up by all the other permutations of toilet provision. It would be almost truly universal.
We are supposed to live in an inclusive society, yet Regulations make it exclusive.
Inclusion, as far as away from home toilets are concerned, is as small as 5m2. That is all the extra space required to accommodate the hoist, the bigger changing bench, so anyone who needs lifting, changing, or just to ‘spend a penny’ can go to the loo away from home.