Sainsbury’s is set to install a range of solutions as part of upgrades across its stores which will include dementia and stoma-friendly toilets.
It will be the first supermarket chain in the UK to make such a move but all the major supermarkets have been criticised recently for their lack of investment in Changing Places facilities.
Sainsbury’s will install various solutions to help people with dementia, for example it will fit specialist ‘way out’ signs. Toilet cubicles will also be fitted with a shelf and hook to aid people with a stoma.
The rollout will commence in the coming weeks and installations are due to be completed in March.
Emma Bould, programme partnerships project manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the charity is “delighted” by Sainsbury’s move.
“Finding and exiting toilets can often be confusing for people living with dementia, causing anxiety when they are out and about,” she explained to the Huffington Post. “This small but significant step will enable people with dementia to quickly find the exit, while also making the route clearer to all customers.”
Campaigners hope the move will be followed by other supermarket chains but there is still frustration at the lack of other disabled facilities.
In November a Twitter user who caused a social media stir with her post shaming department store John Lewis for not installing Changing Places launched a petition calling for major supermarkets to commit to investing in specialist bathroom equipment.
Laura Moore posted an image showing a young girl on the floor of a toilet cubicle in John Lewis illustrating the conditions families and carers are having to work in. Her Tweet gained national media attention and saw other people venting their frustration at a lack of specialist facilities.
Ms Moore’s campaign, which highlights the fact that only nine out of around 2,600 supermarkets in the UK have Changing Places, has received over 30,000 signatures within days.
The campaign wants a commitment from top retailers, including Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose, to roll out Changing Places toilets across their whole network of stores within the next 18 months.
Changing Places toilets are specialist changing facilities which feature additional equipment to traditional disabled toilets including hoists, changing benches and more room for carers.
According to Ms Moore, Asda currently has four such facilities with another opening in 2018, Tesco has three and Sainsburys and Morrisons have one each.