Another building enhances accessibility with Changing Places installation
Based at City Hall, Greater London Authority (GLA) has joined a raft of other buildings and venues in levelling up accessibility by installing a brand-new Changing Places toilet.
Open to staff and the public during working hours, the new toilets will be accessible from the main reception area, helping cater for disabled employees and visitors with complex care needs who require carer support, appropriate equipment, and more space.
Mary Harpley, Chief Officer at Greater London Authority, commented: “Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live and work here and for those visiting.
“I am pleased that the new City Hall now has a ‘Changing Places’ toilet available for staff and visitors, improving accessibility for people with a range of complex care needs.”
Changing Place supplier Innova Care Concepts supplied and installed the new facility, including specialist healthcare equipment such as an overhead hoist system, helping to eliminate the need to lift a person manually, reducing the strain on carers’ backs and the risk of injury to the person being transferred.
Derek Oliver, Changing Places Manager at Innova Care Concepts, added: “It is vital that local authorities acknowledge the need for more Changing Places so it is great to see City Hall setting a great example for others to follow. By including this new facility, the Greater London Authority are not only enhancing accessibility for their staff, they are also helping provide more accessible toilets in East London for the public to use.”
Changing Places toilets are designed for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities or with physical disabilities, such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis, who often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably. They incorporate a range of assistive technologies to enhance independence, such as changing benches, overhead hoists, and grab rails.
Karen Hoe OBE, Changing Places Manager for Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “As co-chair of the Changing Places Toilet Consortium, Muscular Dystrophy UK is thrilled that the new home of City Hall is inclusive to both staff and members of the public.
“It’s fantastic to see the Greater London Authority’s ongoing commitment to accessibility and inclusion, as City Hall has moved from its previous venue that also had a Changing Places toilet.
“The Changing Places Consortium has been campaigning for more of these essential facilities nationwide to meet the needs of more than 250,000 people in the UK who are entirely dependent on them for their basic toileting needs once they leave the home.”
The increase in the number of buildings installing Changing Places facilities follows the opening of a £30 million fund for councils in August 2021. Local authorities were invited to apply for their share of this fund last year to install life-enhancing Changing Places toilets in public places and tourist attractions, providing a significant increase in areas where users want them most.
While the fund is designed for councils to increase provision of accessible toileting facilities, it has helped shine a spotlight on the need for Changing Places facilities more wildly. Innova Care Concepts recently helped the first UK bank, Lloyds Banking Group, to install one of these assistive toilets in London.