Did you know there are 221 public toilets (provided by councils) in Kent (plus thousands of other places to use the toilet outside your home like businesses, cafes, shops, pubs, tourist venues, service stations, ports, railways, airports, leisure complexes, retail outlets, supermarkets, parks and gardens, libraries….. bushes if you’re desperate… you get the idea).
Here are all the council public toilets (in roughly mapped out council areas).
Now, for people with profound learning disabilities, brain injury, spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease… the picture is quite different.
If, you can not stand to take your weight or push up with your hands to transfer from, say, your wheelchair to the toilet, the only way to get onto the toilet is using a hoist (or perhaps laying down on a changing bench to change pads/clothing).
If you go out with a carer or assistant, they may not be allowed to help you onto the toilet and insist on using a hoist.
People who need a hoist or changing bench (or plenty of room) look for what are called Changing Places (CP) toilets/hygiene rooms.
These are the TOTAL number of such toilets in Kent – 24 (of which some are in day centres). Only 4 out of the 12 councils that cover Kent provide information about them on the ‘public toilet’ section of their web-sites.
[Blue squares and red dots indicate 1 Changing Places toilet for public use]
Only one is located near a cinema, there are none located in hospitals, service stations, ports/railways/airports (there is one at Eurotunnel). The large central library in Kent does not have one and a new 2 million pound bowling centre in Maidstone doesn’t have one either (the cost of such a toilet being rather a drop in the ocean of a 2 million pound building).
Kent is a major gateway into the UK from Europe. The big tourist attractions like Leeds Castle and Chatham Dockyard have no such facility, neither does Canterbury town centre with its historic cathedral.
I worked in two Universities in Kent and neither had these facilities for disabled staff or students.
So what do people do?
Well, we either don’t go out or our assistants/family lift us onto the toilet floor to change pads etc or lift us onto the toilet. When I go out with my PAs – to the cinema, I have to limit what I drink and eat to be able to last until I get home. It’s not safe, dignified or hygienic to live like this.
People who need these facilities can also do something else – raise awareness of what is needed, why they are so essential, provide information to venues and thank those who have considered the hygiene needs of thousands of people and their families.
More information about CP toilets, where they are and how to install them.