‘Winds of change spell good news for our industry’

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Campaigners have long been pushing for legislative change to make Changing Places compulsory in public buildings.

I was thrilled to report last month that the efforts of groups like the Changing Places Consortium have been realised.

Changing Places are large disabled toileting facilities fitted with additional equipment like hoists and adjustable benches.

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There are over 1,300 in the UK but until now they have been entirely optional installations. The government announced new proposals a few weeks back which could change all that.

From now on, new or majorly refurbished large buildings used by the public including shopping centres, supermarkets and sports and arts venues must have Changing Places toilets fitted.

It is estimated that there will be a demand for around 150 new Changing Places each year, representing a potentially significant surge in enquiries for equipment like ceiling hoists.

While this news may be of more interest to the select companies selling and fitting ceiling hoists and adaptive toilets, I think it is something the whole industry can get excited about.

The government’s Changing Places proposals represent a step-change in its approach to one area of accessibility, which is good news for the wider disability sector. A couple of weeks ago, future mobility minister Jesse Norman declared that all new transport solutions and technology should make accessibility considerations a top priority.

Few mobility dealers will be directly involved in accessible transport, but both Mr Norman’s statement and the decision to make Changing Places mandatory show that the government is starting to budge on disability matters.

In the wake of such decisions, it is hard not to start thinking about how the new proposals could pave the way for more legislative change relevant to the disability community and equipment industry. Compulsory scooter insurance or mandatory equipment MOTs? Who knows what could be next and how it could impact on mobility retailers?

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Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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