Yesterday Philip Davies MP joined Mencap and the 11 times Paralympic gold medallist Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson to celebrate Learning Disability Week and call for an increase in the number of Changing Places toilets available in the UK.
Standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability. There are over 230,000 people who need to use a Changing Places toilet in the UK and yet only 85 Changing Places toilets are available. This year's Learning Disability Week, which runs from 22 -28 June, aims to alert people to this alarming unmet need.
Changing Places toilets are toilets which have enough space for the person with a disability and their carers, and the right equipment which includes an adult sized height-adjustable changing bench and a hoist. Without them people who need support from one or two carers to use the toilet or to have their continence pad changed either have to stay at home or their family carers have to resort to changing them on dirty toilet floors.
A new report published from the University of Dundee, Changing Places Toilets, Estimates of Potential Users, published by Mencap and the Changing Places Consortium during Learning Disability Week, has revealed that 230,252 people with a disability, including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, need Changing Places toilets.
A British Standard1 published earlier this year, recommended that Changing Places toilets should be installed in larger buildings and complexes such as shopping centres, airports and motorway services, large railway stations and key buildings within town centres. However, this standard is not compulsory and that is why Mencap is calling on the Department for Communities and Local Government to amend Building Regulations Part M to make the provision of Changing Places toilets in large newly built public buildings a legal requirement.
Philip Davies MP commented:
" We all take being able to go out to the shops or to our local leisure centre for granted and yet there are nearly a quarter of a million people whose lives are severely restricted by not having the right toilet facilities.
"It is certainly dangerous, unhygienic and undignified for anyone to have to be changed on toilet floors and this is why I am supporting Mencap's calls for a change to the Building Regulations so we can ensure the building of more Changing Places toilets.
"Guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government to local authorities already states that Changing Places toilets in key public places would make a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of people. This is why I have also written to our local council to ask whether they will consider installing further Changing Places toilets in our local area."
Leroy Binns, spokesman for Mencap, said:
"Without Changing Places toilets people with profound and multiple learning disabilities can't take part in the community like everyone else, which is not fair. We are delighted to have Philip Davies MP's support during Learning Disability Week."