Changing Places: Laura's Story

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Changing Places: Laura's Story

Before I had a disabled child, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t give much thought to accessibility and the many issues that so many people in the disabled community face due to a lack of thought and care.

I was ignorant to the world that I now live in and naively assumed that the Equality Act (2010) and decent morals would cover most of the issues that our community faces. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Today, on World Toilet Day (19th Nov), I’m aware that there are so many issues that affect the disabled community in the UK.

I’m aware that the issues my family face are just a fraction of those faced by others.

I’m aware that ignorance is bliss and the right to access is a fight we should all be fighting. Because if you don’t shout about access issues because it’s the right thing to do, you should bear in mind that disability can affect anyone of us at any time. Maybe an issue doesn’t affect you now, but tomorrow it might.

And trust me - it’s an uphill, unjust battle.

The biggest access issue that affects my family is a lack of Changing Places toilets. I can’t believe that we live in a UK that allows this to happen in the 21st Century.

My son Brody, who is nearly 7-years-old is doubly incontinent and as a result wears nappies. Before he outgrew baby changing facilities I never gave much thought to how older children and adults who wear padded products got changed when out and about. Ignorant to an issue that affects thousands, it simply didn’t cross my mind.

I also didn’t think of how people who couldn’t self-transfer on to a toilet would be able to sit down on one. I naively assumed so called “accessible toilets” would be accessible for everybody who had a disability that meant that they were unable to use a standard toilet.

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How wrong was I?

More Changing Places toilets – a 12 square meter room with equipment such as a height adjustable changing bed, toilet and tracking hoist – are desperately needed throughout the UK. Sadly, there are only 1202 as I write, which really isn’t a lot – especially when you consider the fact that there are 2500 toilets in Wembley stadium alone!

There are only 185 in Scotland where we live and currently just two in our local authority. This means that unless we stay home and never go out, the choices we are left with are undignified, unhygienic and unsafe – change Brody in our car boot, change him on a public toilet floor or leave him sitting in a dirty nappy.

This is unacceptable. Brody, along with thousands of other disabled children and adults deserve better. After all, going to the toilet is a basic human right!

This is a huge issue affecting thousands of disabled people, carers and families.

And I’m ashamed that we live in UK that allows this to happen.

For further information about the Changing Places toilet campaign and how you can help, please contact PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) if based in Scotland – pamischangingplaces@dundee.ac.uk / 01382 385 154 or Muscular Dystrophy UK if based in England, Wales or Northern Ireland – changingplaces@musculardystrophy.org / 020 7803 2876.