Organisations combine to come up with creative Changing Places solution in Scotland
Yorkshire-based Innova Care Concepts has worked with PAMIS, Portakabin and the National Galleries of Scotland to complete a unique Changing Places facility at Edinburgh’s modern art gallery.
With more than 250,000 people in the UK requiring personal assistance to use the toilet, including those with spinal injuries and multiple disabilities, Changing Places facilities provide the vitally needed equipment and space not found in standard accessible toilets.
It was during a Disabled Access in 2017 that the National Galleries of Scotland received feedback on how it could improve the experience for visitors with disabilities that it considered installing the specialist toileting facility.
Meg Faragher, Communities Learning Coordinator for the Education Department at the National Galleries of Scotland, said “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.”
Keen to install the Changing Places toilet at its Modern One site at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the project initially ran into difficulty due to the building’s listed status.
Emma Anderson, Portaloo Scotland Manager at Portakabin, explained the creative way the Gallery 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.”
Care equipment specialists Innova supplied and installed all of the equipment for the new facility.
Bob Oliver, Innova’s Projects Director, commented: “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.”
Without the specialist mobility equipment and additional space, people with profound and multiple disabilities are often forced to be laid on unhygienic toilet floors or feel unable to leave their homes, fuelling isolation and exclusion.
The new Changing Places facility is just one of 205 located in Scotland, with only 1,430 Changing Places toilets being available in the UK.
Fiona Souter, Information and Inclusive Communities Director at PAMIS – a co-founder of the Changing Places Consortium, 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.”
In England, the Government has prioritised increasing the availability of the facilities across the country as part of its push to improve access for all, including opening up new Changing Places funding for motorway services providers and NHS trusts.
It is hoped that the new facility at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will prove useful for anyone near the centre of Edinburgh as its placement in the gallery’s grounds, next to accessible parking, means users will not have to go inside or ask permission to use the Changing Places toilet.
Check out a video of the project below: