Changing access to leisure

Thousands of people in West Berkshire now have improved access to leisure activities as a result of Council investment in state of art facilities.

The Authority has created an innovative ‘Changing places’ disabled toilet at its Northcroft Leisure Centre- the largest facility of its kind in West Berkshire, including four swimming pools, a 63- station gymnasium, six court sports hall, squash courts, fitness studio and sauna. The ‘Changing places’ facility, designed, installed and commissioned by Total Hygiene, enables people who need the help of at least one carer to undertake basic personal hygiene whilst ‘out and about’ in a suitable, clean environment, in line with ‘best practice’ set out in the British Standard for accessible building design, BS8300:2009.

The ‘Changing places’ toilet is larger than conventional disabled toilets, and includes as standard a hoist, changing table and height adjustable basin; West Berkshire’s access team has further extended suitability for as many users as possible by also incorporating a Closomat ‘wash and dry’ toilet, which reduces- or eliminates- the need for the carer to wipe the user clean after toileting, as cleansing is undertaken by integral douche and drier in the Closomat.

West Berkshire Council’s Arts & Leisure Manager Adrian Jones explained,

Following an access audit across the Council’s leisure facilities, we identified that there was a need to improve access to leisure centres for the approximately 20,000 people in our area who have a limiting long-term illness. We worked closely with our access team and consulted with customers to decide how best to improve the facility. A successful bid for £22,853 to the Aiming High programme followed, and provided the investment in enhanced changing room provision at our largest leisure facility, which we hope is the first step in meeting that need for better accessibility for all.

Valerie Witton, WBC Access Officer, added,

We worked closely with Total Hygiene to develop the most encompassing facility we could within budget. We felt including a Closomat toilet- the only toilet of its kind designed specifically for disabled people and made in the UK ( by Total Hygiene)- in the ‘Changing places’ facility ensured as many people as possible could benefit from our improved disabled provision.

Total Hygiene is official commercial partner of the Changing Places Changing Lives campaign, which aims to enable anyone who needs the help of up to two carers to enjoy day to day activities with the peace of mind they can access appropriate toilet facilities. The facility at Northcroft Leisure Centre brings the total Changing places facilities in the UK to almost 200, in locations as diverse as colleges, shopping centres, car parks and airports.