Changing Places is a national campaign to provide specialist toilets and Carol Benson was asked as part of her work to lead the project.
Carol works as a Business Change Leader in the Learning Disability Community Support Service at Leeds City Council. As a qualified social worker, she has worked in the field of learning disability for over 30 years and has been a carer for adults with learning disabilities for most of this time. She has been at the heart of the transformation agenda in Leeds, improving services to be more flexible and person-centred.
In this post Carol tells us about a new Changing Place.
“When I trained as a social worker many years ago I never imagined that it would lead to me standing in a public convenience with two Councillors discussing how chemical toilets work! Yet last week (Wednesday 1 October) I was thrilled to do exactly that when I took delivery of the first mobile Changing Place for Leeds.
It is estimated that around one million people across the country cannot use standard disabled toilets. This is because such facilities are either too small to accommodate wheelchairs and up to two carers who support the person with a disability and/or they do not have the necessary equipment.
Many of you reading this article will have experienced the challenge of finding somewhere convenient, safe and clean to change a child’s nappy. Imagine how much harder it is to find suitable facilities for an adult. Sadly carers often need to curtail their journey in order to return home or, worse still, use the floor of a public toilet to change an incontinence pad. This is dangerous and undignified for both people with a disability and their carers.
Changing Places are toilet facilities designed to meet the specific needs of people who use a hoist to transfer from wheelchair to toilet. They have space for people to assist and an adult-sized changing bench. A network of these toilets is being developed across the country, and I’m proud that Leeds supports this campaign. Part of my work has been to increase the number of Changing Places in Leeds. Happily I can tell you that over the last four years we have gone from having just one to now having 18, and there are more in development. In fact, Leeds is leading the way in provision of Changing Places across Yorkshire and Humberside. This has been achieved through capital funding, Aiming High for Disabled Children grants and private investment.
Changing Places are located in community centres, leisure centres, shopping centres, cultural hubs and places of interest across the city. Delivery of the nineteenth facility, however, enables Leeds to hit the road! The mobile unit will be available at numerous outdoor events such as the German Christmas Market, Classical Fantasia, Ice Cube, Breeze, Light Night and Learning Disability Week thanks to the council’s Events Team who will manage bookings and tow the unit to sites. This will enable people with the most complex support needs to access the type of events that we all take for granted. For the first time they will be able to participate fully in all that Leeds has to offer.
So, look out for the new mobile Changing Place …. it will be coming to an event near you very soon.”
To find out more about the work of Changing Places look here http://www.changing-places.org/