Companies supplying equipment for or installing Changing Places facilities could find their services in much higher demand moving forward after the government declared that it will be mandatory for new public buildings to feature the specialist toilets.
New, or majorly refurbished, large buildings used by the public, including shopping centres, supermarkets and sports venues must have Changing Places toilets, under the new proposals.
The proposals, being consulted on from today, are expected to add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year.
Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for carers.
There are over 1,300 Changing Places toilets in the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, but more are needed to support the more than a quarter of a million people who need them in the UK.
Catherine Woodhead, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said: “People living with disabilities go to work, visit shops and enjoy days out with friends just like everyone else. But a lack of Changing Places toilets make these seemingly simple tasks a challenge.
“The government’s consultation on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings is hugely encouraging. Along with our fantastic campaigners, we have long pushed for changes to legislation, and now we are one step closer to that being reality.”
The government has launched a 10-week consultation, which proposes the required size and shape of Changing Places toilets as well as the range of equipment that must be included.
It also proposed thresholds at which the facilities will be made mandatory in new or largely refurbished buildings of different types, such as overall floor space or attendance capacity.
Last month, the Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, launched a £2 million fund for Changing Places to be installed in existing motorway service stations, which is now open for applications.
The Department of Health and Social Care will also soon launch a £2 million fund for NHS Trusts to install new Changing Places in over 100 hospitals across England.
Image: OpeMed Changing Places. Image credit: OpeMed