A groundbreaking theatre company, supported by some of the UK’s top thespians, is taking its inclusive approach to every level- even to backstage dressing room facilities.

Chickenshed’s purpose built theatre in London plays host to over 1,000 people per week – who work, study for BTec and Foundation Degree performing arts courses, and perform – plus in excess of 50,000 people per year attending as audience members. The venue has been designed from the outset to be inclusive for all, where everyone is welcome and valued, to the extent of wheelchair accessibility to all areas, captioned shows for those with hearing loss and sign language performances. The organisation’s access group meets monthly to review the needs of audiences and performers and implement where possible latest access initiatives.

Latest of these is the installation of a Closomat automatic shower toilet in the backstage WC and shower room. Explains Jane D’Aulby, Chickenshed general manager, “The Closomat was recommended by one of our BTec students, as their family has one at home which they find invaluable, and our Trustees unanimously agreed the funding. Our pioneering work is often fast-paced and physically exerting and performers are encouraged to give their all, so it is essential that all performers have access to good cleansing facilities. The Closomat has greatly improved the backstage facilities and the members who use it are very pleased at the personal freshness and independence it offers.”

The first wash and dry WC developed SPECIFICALLY for the less able, the Closomat Palma Vita features technological improvements making it the most advanced unit of its type on the market. It combines a conventional toilet with integral washing and drying facilities. Unique simultaneous flushing and washing improves hygiene as the user is cleaned by warm water, not paper, and increases independence as manual cleansing is eliminated.

One simple press of the flush pad (by hand, elbow or body pressure) or the remote control hand switch can trigger the washing and drying process, without the handle having to remain depressed if required, making it easily useable by all, regardless of manual dexterity. If necessary, an additional push at any time can repeat the drying cycle. The functions can be stopped at any time simply by standing up.

Water can be heated as required, saving energy, and is controlled to body temperature with a ‘fail safe’ cut-out. The douching process effectively cleanses and the dryer provides a gentle flow of warm air for up to 3 minutes. The douche arm retracts and self-cleans using the clean water supply to the Palma. It uses no chemicals, and therefore continues to sanitise the douche throughout the life of the unit, not just until a disinfectant reservoir empties.