Two weeks ago I travelled to Manchester to meet the Clos-o-Mat team. Clos-o-Mat has installed 150 Changing Place facilities across the United Kingdom.
If you haven’t heard of a Changing Place toilet you really need to check them out.
Quite simply – they are perfect.
They meet the needs of people of all ages with profound and multiple learning difficulties as well as other medical and physical conditions.
They are a minimum of a 12 sqm space including a height adjustable changing bench, hoist, a centrally placed toilet and a privacy screen.
There are over 700 Changing Places across the UK.
In an ideal world, a Changing Place toilet would sit alongside every public toilet and be available in every public venue.
Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and for now they don’t.
Space to Change is just a starting place to help make life that little bit easier for the Firefly Community.
It’s about being able to spend the whole day at your favourite venue, not having to pack towels, changing mats, anti-bacterial spray and nappy bags just to go for a coffee or to your local shops.
For the venues Space to Change is targeting a Changing Place facility might never be an option – they simply don’t have the space.
Other venues like shopping centres with almost half their units empty can’t make the substantial capital investment required to install a Changing Place facility.
That doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t do anything to help support families who have young children with toileting needs.
Space to Change provides a viable alternative for small businesses who cater for families with younger children.
When I think of my own family situation we enjoy trips to our local farm, a visit to the soft play area or the play park.
These are places for families who have young children.
They are unlikely to ever have a Changing Place facility but they could quite easily provide one of the 3 Space to Change Levels.
Green – Private hygienic facility with large changing mat available
Orange – Adult length changing bench with safety barrier
Pink – Height adjustable changing bench with mobile hoist
For very small businesses and venues the Green Level might be the very best they can offer.
To receive a Space to Change award even at the Green Level, they must ensure their Space to Change facility is spotlessly clean, they must provide an anti-bacterial cleaner and a large changing mat together with slip-resistant flooring, tear off roll and a nappy bin.
The space must be large enough to accommodate the child, the carer and the child’s wheelchair in a private area.
If I know that somewhere will provide a Space to Change facility for me with my child today and that their staff will be understanding, helpful and accommodating – it will make things easier for us during this particular time in our lives.
I hope that the Space to Change campaign helps open up a conversation.
It gives businesses an opportunity to make immediate changes that can make a difference to families who have young children with toileting needs while they work towards the ultimate goal of a Changing Place facility.
A Changing Place facility for many venues is something to aspire to.
But for others, it could and should be a reality and as a Space to Change Champion I will always be encouraging them to aim for a Changing Places so they can properly accommodate every member of our community.
In the meantime I hope the short term gains that Space to Change makes for the Firefly Community will lead to long term changes in both attitudes and facilities for people with additional needs.