Portsmouth International Port has become the most accessible major sea hub in the UK with the opening of a “life-changing” toilet.

The Port is the first major sea travel hub in the country to open a Space to Change specialist toilet and changing facility, which delivers the space and equipment needed by potentially five million people with complex needs. Enhancing a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet, the Space to Change- supplied and installed by Closomat- includes more space, plus an adult-sized height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling tracking hoist.

Kalvin Baugh, Ferry Port Manager, said:

One of our frequent travellers Sarah Brisdion- whose son Hadley has Cerebral Palsy and needs the extra equipment of a bench and hoist- made us aware that standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of people with severe disabilities or additional needs. Even more shockingly, that they often have to lie on toilet floors to be changed. We felt very strongly that nobody should have to endure this and so worked closely with Sarah to find a solution.
Because Space to Change enhances existing conventional wheelchair-accessible toilets, rather than being a ‘stand-alone’ facility, we were able to address Sarah’s request without the delay, cost and disruption of significant building work. To our knowledge, no other seaport in the UK can offer its travellers such fully-accessible facilities.

Sarah elaborated,

Something as simple as some extra space in a toilet, with a bench and a hoist, is nothing short of life-changing for families like mine. It enables us to use the toilet when out in public – something that most people take for granted.
Like a huge number of other children, and adults, with complex needs, my son is faced with the undignified and unhygienic situation of having to lie on toilet floors or spend prolonged periods of time in his own bodily waste, because toilet facilities that also have a bench and hoist are so rarely available. It’s heart-breaking to have to lay somebody you love on a toilet floor to change them. It’s distressing and disgusting for him and really physically difficult for me. And it gets harder, the older he gets. Portsmouth International Port has been incredibly supportive, to ensure that the terminal building was accessible to all.

Space to Change toilets plug the gap between conventional (Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013) wheelchair-accessible toilets, and the ‘desirable’, additional, larger and better equipped Changing Places toilets. The concept enables venues that are limited financially and/or on space to meet the needs of up to three million British children and adults who need changing and lifting facilities for their personal hygiene. It encompasses a 7.5m2+ (3m x 2.5m min) wheelchair-accessible toilet that further includes an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist.

Space To Change has been developed with leading Changing Places campaigners- including Sarah Brisdion- and Closomat (Britain’s leading supplier of disabled toilet solutions at home and away). Firefly Community, an online special needs community, will drive the campaign, supporting campaigners and raising awareness of the need for accessible toilets that include height adjustable changing benches and hoists.

Full details of the Space To Change concept, plus technical support, CAD blocks etc, can be found here.