We reached the end of the summer holidays. We visited new places, fighting to see as many tourist attractions as possible before the inevitable occurs, and my daughter’s world shrinks completely forever.
My daughter is eight-years-old, she should have everything to live for, the world should be opening up for her - but because she is disabled the complete opposite is happening and all because of a lack of appropriate toilet facilities in the places we visit.
My daughter is unable to use a standard accessible loo, she needs Changing Places toilets, that include an adult changing bench and hoist, as she is unable to transfer independently from her wheelchair, and she has learning disabilities that mean there’s a possibility that she will never be toilet trained. At the time of writing this, there are only 1,162 registered Changing Places loos in the UK, which may sound a lot, but to put that in perspective there are over 2,500 toilets in Wembley Stadium alone. There are towns and cities around the UK without a single public toilet facility that my daughter can use, when out and about in the community.
At the moment, I am still changing my eight-year-old daughter on baby change facilities. Physically lifting her out of her wheelchair, onto a surface that I pray will hold her weight without breaking. One day I know that even the baby change will no longer be an option. What to do then? Will I have to change her on a toilet floor, or in the back of the car? What happens if my back goes? What if I drop her? Why are these the only options, in the 21st Century, in a so-called civilised country?
Because this is not simply a case of being able to pick and choose where we can go. Our hospital does not have a Changing Place facility, yet we have to attend appointments. And if we limited where we went to, to where Changing Places toilet facilities are available, then life would be very, very limited indeed.
So looking into my daughter’s future, at some point we will have some tough decisions to make... Will my teenage girl have to have a urinary catheter with all the health risks associated with it, or will she instead have to sit in a soiled pad putting her at risk of pressure sores. How the heck are we supposed to deal with menstrual flow, when I can no longer lift her in order to change her sanitary products.
This is not simply a problem for my daughter. There are at least a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK, and their carers, who rely on Changing Places toilets to have their toileting needs met and who are not provided for, even in new large public buildings. Social, educational, health and cultural options restricted by the lack of appropriate loos. Disabled people regularly being denied freedom of choice and dignity.
We need a revo-loo-tion, we need Changing Places to be compulsory in public buildings as they are being built or renovated, you can help to support this by signing this petition. We need outdoor public events to hire mobile Changing Places facilities, such as the Mobiloo. No child should have to face these options as they grow. No parent should have to make these decisions on behalf of their child. No disabled child, teenager or adult should be denied basic dignity. We all need to pee.