Dignity and Menstruation

It’s world menstrual hygiene day on May 28th.

Disabled people can be completely overlooked when it comes to product design, access to sanitary products and toilet facilities. People may even assume disabled women and trans men for example don’t menstruate. Trust me – most of us do – if we ovulate then we have a menstrual cycle – and our health and dignity is often compromised because of so little understanding and awareness

My experiences as a wheelchair user with personal assistance.

  • Do male carers and spouses know how to shop for sanitary products and how to attach them in the right place !! My husband entered an entirely new world that he never thought would happen.
  • How do you hoist someone from bed to bathroom where clothing has already been removed ready for sitting on the loo – when it’s the dreaded day one and an almighty flood is is occurring!
  • Accessible toilets may not have sanitary product dispensers.
  • Do you know how fiddly it is to remove the backing strips from towels and place them in your knickers if you have arthritis or little finger dexterity or spasms?
  • What do you do when there are no accessible toilets to freshen up and change a towel etc?
  • Extra washing – extra time and cost.
  • Have you ever tried to wipe someone else’s bum when menstruating without getting in a mess?
  • Period cramps can be extra painful when your impairment already causes pain in your legs, back pelvic area etc.
  • Wearing pads can cause pressure sores on delicate skin for wheelchair users and risks higher contact allergies arising from prolonged sitting.
  • Blood in the toilet can be mistaken by carers to be ‘just period related’ – when in fact it could be more serious. Disabled women can be at risk of missing out on important health checks.

Menstrual Hygiene Day article about disabled people.

For people with learning difficulties – it can raise other issues.

This is a very insightful blog everyone should read – about how people with learning difficulties manage and understand menstruation. It highlights so many important elements – I wonder how many health care professionals, carers and assistants have training about supporting people menstruating with dignity and respect?

Link to an article about managing menstruation when you have a learning difficulty

How does society’s attitude to menstruation and hygiene make you feel as a disabled person?

Welcome to our new website!

We have a brand new website and new ways you can support the project.

For business looking to improve or begin a new accessible toilet build or students doing design or social community courses – our new membership support plans are ideal.

Business members get access to over 100 pages of information in our unique publications at a 40% discount and students get them for free. Business yearly support membership is only £30.

All members also get free 1:1 advice and consultancy.

If you have found our information blogs helpful you can also support the project by donations. Just a few pounds to help keep information free for disabled people and their families would be a significant help!

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Government consults on mandatory Changing Places

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).

Visit: Changing Places (England) Consultation

You can have your say on issues such as:

  • Types of buildings
  • Trigger values eg cinemas would be based on x number of seats, others triggered by footfall or space.
  • Size and equipment provided
  • Costs to businesses
  • Equality impact assessment of provision.

Full details are contained in the pdf document provided on the consultation page. You can participate by email or online.

All about Emergency Cords

Emergency Cords

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?

A unisex wheelchair accessible toilet in a building that is not a dwelling.

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.

Ambulant Accessible Toilets

These do not have to have an emergency alarm system.

Other alarm types

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.

Costs of emergency cord kits

These generally retail for around £80-100 and must be located correctly inside the toilet to meet Doc M for sanitation provision.

Tied up cords

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.