Changing Places facility at the National Galleries of Scotland image

Helping provide an accessible and inclusive environment, Innova Care Concepts has worked with PAMIS, Portakabin and the National Galleries of Scotland to install a Changing Places facility at the gallery’s Modern One site.

In the UK, more than 250,000 people need personal assistance to use the toilet or change continence pads, including people with spinal injuries or profound and multiple disabilities.

Explaining how they identified a need for a Changing Places facility, Meg Faragher, Communities Learning Coordinator for the Education Department at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “During our Disabled Access day in 2017, we asked visitors for feedback on how we could improve their experience.

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“We learned that because of the nature of caring for someone with complex needs, if one person is unable to visit a venue, because their personal care needs can’t be met, it means the whole family is excluded. This was something we wanted to do something about.”

Although the Equality Act 2010 ensures facilities provide equal access to toilets for customers or visitors with a disability, standard accessible toilets do not provide the appropriate space or equipment for people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

Equipment specialist Innova supplied and installed all equipment required for the Changing Places facility. As the facility is placed in the grounds of the gallery, next to accessible parking, users don’t have to go inside or ask permission to use the facility.

Bob Oliver, Innova’s Projects Director, described what makes Changing Places different: “The equipment in a Changing Places toilet is more comprehensive than that of a standard accessible toilet. They include a height-adjustable adult-size changing bench and sink so users of different heights, or with different size wheelchairs can use the facilities as they require.

“The most important part of the facility is the ceiling hoist, which covers the entire space by using an x-y system to ensure a person can be moved from their wheelchair to the toilet or changing bench and back to their chair with ease.”

Changing Places facility at the National Galleries of Scotland image

Without these appropriate facilities, people with profound and multiple disabilities are forced to be laid on unhygienic toilet floors or feel unable to leave their homes, says Innova.

However, installing a Changing Places toilet at the National Galleries of Scotland initially proved challenging due to the Modern One’s listed building status.

Emma Anderson, Portaloo Scotland Manager at Portakabin, explained the unique way they overcame the issue: “The team was unable to make the significant internal works required to provide a Changing Places toilet inside the building.

“But the Portaloo Accessible Plus unit is a standalone building, which means it can be placed almost anywhere on a site without major disruption. Our team was able to safely install the building within one day and have the facility ready for visitors to use as quickly as possible.

“We’re dedicated to working with as many businesses and tourist attractions as possible to become fully accessible so that we can reduce that feeling of isolation people with disabilities and their families face.”

Currently, there are less than 1,430 Changing Places toilets in the UK, with just 205 of these located in Scotland.

Fiona Souter, Information and Inclusive Communities Director at PAMIS, said: “There are very few Changing Places toilets available in Scotland, only six of these are at museums. To have a facility at the National Galleries of Scotland is so important as it ensures that people with profound and complex disabilities are able to access a cultural venue.”

The Changing Places Consortium, which was co-founded by PAMIS in 2005, campaigns for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all large public spaces.

To help drum up awareness about the importance of Changing Places toilets and to provide a complete resource for those interested in the facilities, Closomat and Hillrom recently launched a new, dedicated Changing Places website.

To learn more about the Changing Places facility at the National Galleries of Scotland, watch the short video below:

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