New bid to improve toilet provision for complex disabilities moves forward

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A move to ensure more widespread availability of specialist toilet facilities for people with complex needs has taken a step forward.

Labour’s Shadow Health Minister Paul O’Kane has welcomed the news that his bid to create a cross-party group to mastermind the delivery of more Changing Places provision has been rubber-stamped by Holyrood’s Parliamentary Standards Committee.

The specialist toilet settings provide more spacious facilities for people who find current standard sanitary provision inadequate, such as those with multiple or complex disabilities who require assistance from one or two carers.

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There is currently a limited network of such locations in Scotland, but no legislation requiring their provision within buildings.

Current provision in Renfrewshire includes sites at Glasgow Airport, Linwood’s ON-X centre, Braehead Shopping Center and Barrhead Health and Care Centre.

But West Scotland MSP Paul told the Standards Committee that the creation of a dedicated committee would “raise the essential need for accessible toilets for all of Scotland’s citizens” and investigate the feasibility of a ring-fenced Changing Places toilet fund for local authorities and community groups .

The stressed that adults and children who suffer from disabilities which mean their needs are not met by current provision politicians are often left with “no privacy or dignity” due to a lack of facilities.

He said: ““I’m delighted that this cross-party group has been accepted and I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues to improve the provision of changing places toilet facilities.

“The access or lack of access to such toilets may determine how comfortable people with disabilities feel about going to particular places and how they generally plan their day.”

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Launched in 2018: The Changing Places facility at Glasgow Airport

Mr O’Kane added: “We’ll be keen to work with a broad range of people –from parents and carers as well as local authorities and retail, to ensure that accessible toilets can be found in as many places as possible and give reassurance to those who need them that they are never too far away.

“This group’s work will hopefully send a message to tourists and potential visitors with disabilities that Scotland can and will have the changing facilities that will make everyone feel truly welcomed and accommodated.”

He said that lack of accessible toilet facilities can compound issues such as infection and mental health.

It is proposed that the politicians will work alongside the Royal Incorporation of Architects to help develop a blueprint for suitable provision.

Input from parents, carers, teachers and anyone with lived experience which could contribute to the group’s aims will also be taken on board.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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