Gatwick Airport has announced that it has purchased a new passenger lifting hoist and that it will be purchasing two new Changing Places facilities and two sensory rooms in the next 12 months.
The Eagle Hoist 4 is designed to safely transfer aviation passengers requiring full assistance to and from wheelchairs and aircraft seats in commercial passenger jets. The facility can improve the passenger experience for people with reduced mobility considerably and Gatwick is the first airport in the world to purchase this latest model.
The new hoist assisted toilets and changing facilities are different to, and should be provided in addition to, standard disabled toilets, the airport said. The current plan is for the new facilities to be built landside in both terminals, complementing existing Changing Places toilet facilities already located airside in both terminals.
Gatwick is also looking to invest in two new sensory rooms for people with sensory processing difficulties such as autism, to brain injury and dementia. The airport is seeking to build a sensory room in each terminal to help improve the mental or physical wellbeing of passengers.
The new sensory rooms will be dedicated spaces designed to block out noise, control space, temperature and lighting to stimulate the senses, promote pleasure and feelings of well-being. The rooms can be transformed from a calming and soothing place, to an exciting and engaging interactive space full of light and sound according to the needs of the passengers that use them.
“We’ve purposely announced these new facilities on the first anniversary of the Hidden Disabilities Lanyard as we want to use the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue among other airports, transport providers and public-serving organisations. The experience we have had with the lanyard has been very positive and, along with our partners OCS, we would encourage other organisations to implement similar schemes to help identify passengers who may require additional support,” said Nikki Barton, head of terminals at Gatwick Airport.
Meanwhile, Maria Cook, Gatwick’s autism ambassador said: “Airports are stressful environments for many people with a disability and these new facilities will greatly improve the airport experience for those needing to use them. They are a necessity, not a luxury.
“Today’s announcement is also a fantastic way to mark the first anniversary of the Hidden Disability Assistance Programme. It is vital that we keep accessibility issues front of mind and by showcasing what are are doing here at Gatwick we hope that this will encourage other airports and transport providers to step up and continue to drive for the necessary changes and improvements as well.”