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News archive - November 2016

Lack of accessible toilets putting patients at risk

Lack of accessible toilets putting patients at risk

Hospitals are failing to provide proper toileting facilities for tens of thousands of patients and visitors, research has revealed.

Some 30% of NHS users in the UK are disabled, and hospitals are the second-most-inaccessible buildings for them, reveals to a new white paper recently published by manufacturer, Clos-o-Mat.

Provision of Changing Places Accessible Toilets in the Healthcare/Hospitals Industry is available for download from the company’s website and covers the rationale behind a ‘Changing Places’ toilet.

A Changing Places toilet involves the creation of a larger, better-equipped accessible facility compared to traditional versions created to meet regulations contained in Document M: Access to and use of buildings, which only addresses the needs of someone who can use a toilet unaided.

Each Changing Places toilet aims to meet the needs of people who need a carer to assist, and provides as a minimum:

  • The right equipment, i.e. a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench, height-adjustable wash basin, shower and shower seat, and track or mobile hoist system
  • Enough space to enable manoeuvring for the disabled person and up to two carers, for a centrally-located toilet with room either side for carers, and a screen or curtain to allow some privacy
  • A safe and clean environment, ie wide tear-off paper to cover the bench, a large waste bin and a non-slip floor

The Clos-o-Mat white paper quantifies the need to provide such a facility in healthcare establishments and covers legislative and ‘good practice’ guidelines.

It also reveals that one in 284 people in the UK need a Changing Places toilet, yet of the UK’s 2,300 hospitals, not even 1% have the ‘bigger and better’ accessible facility, even though they are now included in ‘best practice’ Department of Health building guidelines - Health Building Notes 00-02 sanitary spaces.

“On average we visit the toilet every couple of hours or so,” said Robin Tuffley, Clos-o-Mat marketing manager.

“Outpatients and visitors, therefore, often need to go to the toilet when on hospital premises. For many people, who need the help of a carer, a standard accessible toilet is inappropriate, lacking the space and equipment they need, or potentially unsafe.

“A Changing Places toilet meets their needs and provides an appropriate, hygienic and safe environment.”

Unlike a conventional accessible toilet, a Changing Places toilet is a minimum size of 12sq m and has additional equipment of a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench, hoist and privacy screen.

To further address the issue, Portaloo has also published a new guide to help health estates managers specify toilets and washrooms for people with disabilities.

“The lack of fully-accessible toilets simply denies people with severe disabilities the right to freedom, mobility and community participation”, said Mark Fielding, regional manager at Portaloo.

“Our team has a wealth of expertise in the provision of accessible and fully-accessible toilet and washroom facilities. This new guide shares that knowledge and experience to help raise awareness of the key specification considerations and encourage more organisations to provide accessibility in the built environment.”

The information can be downloaded from the Portakabin website and offers practical advice about the different types of accessible toilet, what legal obligations must be met when providing toilets for disabled people, who needs to provide accessible toilets and washrooms, the key factors to consider when installing or altering toilet and washroom facilities, implications when converting existing premises, and criteria for selecting a supplier.

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