A grant can now be applied for to install Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals.
A grant can now be applied for to install Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals.
The government is undergoing a public consultation (part 1) providing the finer details of including Changing Places toilets in the Building Regulations (Document M, Sanitation).
You can have your say on issues such as:
Full details are contained in the pdf document provided on the consultation page. You can participate by email or online.
Sometimes tied up, sometimes trailing along the floor. Sometimes miles away from the toilet, sometimes not there at all.
What should actually be provided in an accessible toilet according to Document M which defines how a toilet can meet Building Regulations?
So Section 5.4 (h) says that there must be a cord (or equivalent, see below) if built to the 2004 guide (or later). If the toilet was built before this then it does not have to have an emergency alarm system. It must be able to be reset if accidentally pulled/activated from a seated position. The alarm must sound different to a fire alarm and flash differently.
According to section 5.10 the alarm signal must easily be seen and heard by those responsible for assisting.
The system must comply with section 4.3 (e) which says the pull cord must be red, located close to the wall with two red bangles to hold.
The bangles should not reach the floor but be located 100 mm from the floor (the second 800-1000mm from the floor). Bangles must be 50mm diameter.
These do not have to have an emergency alarm system.
It is pretty rare to see alarm systems that are not a red pull cord. However, the guidelines do state that any system that meets the basic criteria may be used.
Would you know this was the alarm?
These are known as strip switches, dado panic rails and tape switches. Some have LED lights on and some look just like a wire in a tube. They may be all around the walls near the floor or also at waist height. To activate them you need to push on the strip to set the alarm off. Some people may not be able to do this depending on their impairment and some are wheelchair bump proof to avoid accidental triggering.
Some people wouldn’t know what the strip does.
These generally retail for around £80-100 and must be located correctly inside the toilet to meet Doc M for sanitation provision.
These can be left tied up by users, carers or cleaning staff. They should always be left to freely dangle and not tied nor tucked behind a rail. Businesses should ensure the safety of staff and visitors by have a system of checking that the cord is left in the correct position.
Reminder cards can be obtained from Euan’s Guide.
An updated fact sheet on what features should be included in an a wheelchair accessible unisex toilet room in the UK.
Download from the link below:
You were having a nice day out until you took a tumble and you’re now bleeding profusely from your knees and elbows …. off to the first aid room you go.
Would you accept treatment if the first aid room was a toilet / restroom and the ‘seating/rest’ area was a bed near the toilet that had previously been used to change a filled nappy?
Would you be thinking ‘surely this isn’t the right environment to treat an open wound?’
I think most of us would be quite shocked to know that first aid rooms at some public venues / tourist locations are being offered up as ‘toilets’ to disabled people? Did you know that disabled people are having soiled pads changed on first aid beds? Some disabled people may be using camping toilets or commodes in the same space.
Should this be allowed? Let’s look at the issues.
[Article by Louise Watch. Louise has formerly worked for 7 years managing mobile and static first aid posts at public event and venues. Louise also uses a wheelchair and hoist].
There are large numbers of visitors to public events who can not use standard ‘accessible toilets’. On a number of occasions first aiders and ambulance staff have had to help people who have not been able to get up from the toilet or who have fallen – usually because the space has been too small to use safely.
Some people need carer support, space, a hoist to transfer from wheelchair to toilet or a bed to lay on to remove clothing, use a catheter, have a continence pad changed. However, venues across the world have been declining to put in suitable toilet facilities known as Changing Places, and instead are telling visitors with these requirements, to use the first aid room.
Wrong. Most are not, they just need a toilet in a room with enough safe manoeuvring space or a hoist available … and first aid rooms do not have a toilet in them. They also do not have hoists or the space to use them.
I have been in hundreds of first aid rooms whilst looking after sick and injured visitors and never once seen a toilet inside. Usually there is a cupboard with medical supplies and a bed, chair, sink and maybe a privacy curtain. So how the offer of a first aid room is going to help continent disabled and older people is a mystery.
Maybe – but it’s not something a first aid room would have as standard and commodes vary a lot and come with their own hazards eg stability, wheels that need breaks on, variable heights and seat types. People can easily fall if it’s not suited to their balance or abilities. Proper accessible toilets have specific features for a reason eg
Commodes can be dangerous if they don’t match the needs of the person and can cause serious accidents.
Commodes also need to be cleaned/emptied between different people and human waste and menstrual blood has to be disposed of correctly. First aid rooms are not equipped for this which means someone will have to walk the filled pan to a nearby toilet to flush away. Will that be staff or visitors?
It is also questionable whether hygiene standards for spills and splashes could be dealt with in a first aid room environment. Infection control becomes a big issue that would probably need a full risk assessment.
People who need a bed to have a soiled pad changed could possibly use a first aid room but there would have to be a full risk assessment to look at the following areas:
The other challenge to turning your first aid room into a toilet is that it can take 40-60 minutes to hoist a disabled adult onto the treatment table, change and clean them, then get them back comfortably in their wheelchair. Then add on another 15 minutes for cleaning and disinfecting. What if there is a casualty who needs treatment during this time. Both can’t use it at the same time unless you have a first aid room laid out like a hospital with cubicles and more than one treatment area/bed.
In light of the above – no, unless the first aid room is very large and more like an A&E department with staff training to match regarding infection control and clinical waste disposal.
Even if I was offered a commode, hoist and private cubicle I would find it insulting and undignified to have to visit a first aid room, where patients might be, to use the ‘toilet’. This would not be equality in terms of bathroom provision. It is certainly not an appropriate solution for the hygiene needs of older and disabled visitors/guests.
What is a RADAR Key? [updated March 2018]
The RADAR key Company have manufactured the vast majority of keys many know as RADAR keys over the past 25 years. They are needed to open a large number (10,000 plus) of accessible toilets in the UK which are part of the National Key Scheme (NKS).
RADAR is an organisation that no longer exists – it became part of a new company Disability Rights UK (DRUK). They started the National Key Scheme in the UK.
The RADAR Key Company no longer supply keys to DRUK but continue to make the keys for the National Key Scheme and improve on them.
The keys open toilets fitted with the RADAR National Key Scheme (NKS) locks. Toilets fitted with these are for the use of disabled people and are found all over the country (e.g. pubs, restaurants, leisure venues, tourist places, shopping centres, stations, airports etc).
What types are there?
There are two types – one with a small head and one with a very large head for people with grip or dexterity difficulties. Both used to be silver with the word RADAR Key embossed on them fit into an NKS door lock or NKS padlock . The door locks often look like this:
Keys now look like this:
A new solid brass key.
They are long handled to bypass vandal protection blocks built into doors.
Who can have one?
Any individual with an impairment / medical condition who needs access to these larger toilets or hygiene facilities or needs facilities to assist mobility or navigation (such as hand rails, lower basin, contrasting colours, different toilet height or seat arrangement, changing table, hoist for example).
One downside is that you do not need proof of need to purchase one so parents and non disabled people can abuse the scheme.
Where do I buy a genuine key from?
You can buy brass (improved) genuine (tested and guaranteed to work) keys from the makers of the original key :
Other sellers of ‘genuine’ keys include this one from Disability Rights UK (4.50). [personally I prefer the improved brass one as opposed to a love heart blue key that is rather stigmatising. Some may prefer it if they want it to stand out and know they have it in their bag].
I have seen them for sale elsewhere – do they work?
Fake RADAR Key
There are hundreds of places claiming to sell ‘genuine’ keys including many prominent charities and mobility shops. Most have a red handle and are mass produced in China. I strongly advise against these keys.
One of the reasons for making a new brass key is to avoid people being ripped of by fakes that may be so rough cut and out of shape that they don’t easily open toilets, if at all. Keys may not be tested by a master locksmith or damage locks.
Tom Gordan from their sales team told me:
A free App is available for Changing Places toilets and coming soon will be one for other accessible toilets. This is available for Android and Apple phones and on the web.
A booklet for regional locations is available on the DRUK website costing £3.50. However, it will cost you £70 to purchase all regions!! I’d download a free App to find their locations made by the RADAR Key Company!
The majority of toilets use the scheme so it’s probably best to just follow signs to toilets/accessible toilets as anyone would do.
Why are accessible toilets often locked with these in the UK?
Many places choose to install NKS locks on their toilets to keep them clean and reduce the chance of them being abused by people who don’t need to use them, vandalised or used for drugs, sexual activity or a wide range of other things!
The usefulness of toilet finding/rating Apps rely on many things such as:
Here are a few worth looking at – each had its own merits so tell us what you think (and let the website/App developers know so they can hopefully make them better suit your needs).
They are all free at the time of listing.
I thought this App had great potential and the developers responded positively to feedback. This is both a rating and finding App. You can rate virtually every toilet feature including access features and cleanliness. Changing Place toilets are included as a review type – and a photo can be submitted for elements you wish to highlight. Reviews are personal reflections which is something to consider but with enough contributors and a date the reviewer visited that facility, this could become a leading database to look at.
This App is by the RADAR Key Company and is free to download:
You do not have to enter your e-mail to go into the App. A web version also exists with enhanced features. This is a toilet finding App for Changing Places toilets which have a hoist and changing bench. The title is somewhat misleading as this is not the Changing Places Consortium map. Here are some screen shots. The inclusion of data such as whether you need to pay, need a NKS (RADAR) key or if locked is very helpful.
A quick test did not reveal all the sites registered on the CP Consortium map – but it did list toilets that didn’t meet the full CP criteria which was useful. You can let them know if a toilet is missing.
Tom Gordon from the company who is involved with the App tells us:
“Our updated Changing-Places-Toilet-Finder website and phone apps (Apple and Android) are free from http://www.loo.org
Ours was the very first one, has 200 more toilets than the British Toilet Association have on theirs, more accurately described and with a more intuitive design of programme.
A similar free website for accessible toilets will follow, so the 5 year old sheets from Disability Rights UK will then be able to be binned.
Next is map that is perhaps the most familiar to hoist and bench users.
The Changing Places Consortium have their own map of registered CP toilets viewable at:
The one function I’d really like to see developed is to search by venue type eg to search for ‘zoo’ or ‘restaurant’ rather than just by location. I’d also like a map somewhere of hoist assisted toilets for people who don’t need a bench or perhaps more info on equipment eg if a toilet riser or bidet is provided.
Speaking of bidets, Closomat have a map where you will find their toilets – also useful if you want to try one out.
Lastly this website seems to have lost its place (and funding). You can enter toilet data in a basic format but to be honest, it’s pretty poor.
As you can see it never found any toilets near me.
Other sites that list some details about toilets at venues include Euan’s Guide ( a review site where people can describe accessibility of venues including the toilets)
and Disabled Go (lots of information but not every toilet at a venue is described).