World Toilet Day and The Big Squat Event
World Toilet Day takes place on November 19th and focuses mainly on the sanitation needs in developing countries. It highlights how important toilets can be and how they can truly make all the difference in the battle against disease and widespread infection. However, we’re looking at a campaign closer to home and one which has a huge impact on the lives of people living with disabilities in the UK. The Changing Places campaign is staging an event as part of a worldwide awareness raising efforts called ‘The Big Squat’.
Changing Places is a campaign which is pushing for the installation of accessible changing rooms in a range of public places across the UK. There are many reason why properly accessible changing rooms are essential and many people living with different disabilities need more support and space to be able to toilet in public places comfortably.
Currently standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of all people living with disabilities and their carers or support staff. People living with profound and multiple disabilities including learning disabilities, spinal damage and acquired brain injury often find themselves needing additional facilities to be able to comfortably utilise public toilets.
Changing Places toilets are different and provide initial facilities and apparatus to allow for easier usage.
Changing Places Toilets
Changing Places toilets provide the right equipment, enough space and a safe and clean changing environment. The equipment provides will either be a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a fully functional tracking hoist system or mobile hoist where this isn’t possible.
The changing areas will also have enough space for the disabled person as well as up to two carers and the toilet will be centrally placed to allow for support from carers on either side. Curtains or screens are also fitted so the disabled person and carer can have some privacy during the change.
The safety and cleanliness is provided by tear off paper roll to cover the bench before use and a large waste bin to allow for the disposal of pads. The floors are all non-slip to avoid any other accidents or risks.
Where do we want them?
The Changing Places campaign want to see their unique and potentially life changing toilets installed in all large public places. Their list of places includes:
• city centres
• shopping centres
• arts venues
• motorway service stations
• leisure complexes
• large railway stations
They also highlight that these new changing facilities should be installed in addition to pre-existing accessible toilets and not as a replacement. We definitely agree and think accessibility to comfortable toilets should be a basic right for all. Below is a case study looking at one mother and daughter who definitely see the need for accessible Changing Places toilets in every possible location.
Bethan and Lowri – A Case Study
Bethan is the mother of two daughters, Elin and Lowri, and the youngest, Lowri, lives with Retts Syndrome. Retts Syndrome means Lowri needs support with all her daily activities as she has no independent mobility. She uses continence pads for comfort and Bethan, Elin and Lowri were all pleased to have the chance to enjoy a happy family day out thanks to a Changing Places toilet.
The mum and daughters were able to enjoy a day out in Nottingham City Centre including shopping, lunch and a show at the local theatre. Nottingham City Council had the initiative to install a Changing Places toilet which allows for Bethan to help her daughter with her toileting needs without stress or difficulty, utilising the specialist hoist and changing equipment.
Bethan highlighted that without the Changing Places toilet there days out were very different as they had to plan their days out around specific times, ensuring to be home for mealtimes as Lowri would need to go to the toilet and they simply wouldn’t be able to change her comfortably in regular disabled toilets, as it would involve lying her on the floor. My own son Joe, has Dravet Syndrome and cannot be changed in most toilets. We had our vehicle specially adapted with a bench, curtains and a small hoist because of this issue.
Changing Places have taken Bethan and Lowri’s story as a great positive and use them regularly in their campaigns to show the importance of their toilets for whole families as well as individuals. This video tells a little more about their story:
(Full Transcript Below)
Take Part In the BIG SQUAT for World Toilet Day
As part of World Toilet Day activities on the 19th November, the World Toilet Organisation (WTO) has launched The Big Squat- a movement for the toilet-less
To help raise awareness of the 2.5 million people worldwide who do not have access to sanitation, the WTO is asking people to squat for one minute in a highly visible location at 12 noon. Download the WTO toolkit for organising your Big Squat and don’t forget to share your photos via the Big Squat flickr group or by emailing them to WTO
The squatting exercise is highly symbolic of the problems faced by many people in the developing world, where a lack of toilets forces people to squat in fields, in the bush, along train tracks, or in other open places. Open defecation is a major problems: it spreads disease, resulting in over 1.8 million deaths from diarrhoeal disease every year. It also affects women’s wellbeing and safety: in many developing countries, women are forced to relieve themselves either before sunrise or after sunset, causing them immense discomfort and inconvenience as well as putting them at risk of rape and other attacks.
In the UK the Changing Places campaign will be using the Big Squat to help highlight the need for Changing Places toilets in public spaces in order to meet the needs of the 230,000 people who need additional support and appropriate facilities in order to use the toilet.
Some of their campaigners in London will be heading to the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in Stratford to do a very public mass squat. We also think this is a great opportunity to celebrate the availability of Changing Places facilities at the park and the accessibility legacy left behind by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralymplic games.
World Toilet Day Aids
At Living with Disability we regularly discuss the importance of dignity and independence in personal care and toileting. We have highlighted some of the many useful gadgets and aids on the market which can help in those awkward moments and reduce anxiety and fear for people who may find toileting problematic.
One of our favourite products comes from Uriwell as they cater for every member of the family and can be a great aid to keep to hand if you often find yourself in situations where your bladder gives you little warning. It’s also very valuable for helping young children who are learning to use the toilet.
On the theme of toilet training for younger children we also rate the Game of Pee which adds a bit of fun to the process. The game includes a Happy Pee and the game comes with different faces for the Uriwell as well as an educational booklet that can be coloured in. A wall chart allows you to mark your child’s progress and help them feel a sense of achievement as they move up the steps. The range has even expanded to include the Happy Poo and so toilet training really can be simpler than you thought.
World Toilet Day and the UK Changing Places campaign needs your support and we’re hoping after reading this you might take part in the Big Squat! (#BigSquat or contact @CP_consortium on Twitter)
00:06 Speaker 1: My name is Bethan, and this is Lowri who is my 10-year-old daughter. Lowri is profoundly disabled. She has a condition called Rett syndrome. And she is completely dependent on us for all her activities of daily living. Lowri wears incontinence pads or nappies and so obviously, we have to change her during the day and in an ordinary disabled toilet that involves putting her on the floor because she is getting a big girl, and it’s no joke to manhandle that. You’ve got to keep her hands off the dirty floor ’cause the next place they’ll go is to her mouth. So, that’s why we need Changing Places toilets. We’ve got to get her onto this height adjustable table, so that’s either lift but ideally you want some kind of an equipment to help you with that because really you do far too much lifting. So, a ceiling track hoist is really ideal. It’s changed our life in the sense that coming to Nottingham for a day out, we can come here, we know it’s here, we can plan our whole day.
01:06 S1: When there’s a Changing Places toilet, it just increases the length of time that you can spend somewhere, and it means you are not time limited, you haven’t got that worry about how long am I going to be out? Where do I go next? If you know that there is a decent facility, then you can build that into your day, and it just takes the pressure off you. The Changing Places campaign is really important for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their family. I see it as being the next step. We’ve got standard accessible disabled toilets everywhere these days, everybody expects them. We’ve got baby changing everywhere and it’s expected. I think that having Changing Places toilets is the next step.