Disabled people need better toilet facilities

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).

Public toilets in Kent

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.

Cursor-3

[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 in Kent

More information about CP toilets, where they are and how to install them.

Isle of Wight – day 3, Seaview Wildlife Encounter

This was a great day for duck lovers like me. Seaview Wildlife Encounter is an award winning park is not far from Puckpool (I kid yee not rofl) and is situated on a hill at Sea View. The park has a modern feel and makes a feature out of getting as close as possible to the animals. The most memorable are the thousands of ducks (free roaming and in pens) from all over the world, walking through the wallaby enclosure. It was prime time for baby ducks – and the level of cuteness blows your mind. You can see those that have just popped out of their eggs in the baby care building.

Two Baby Ducks

Getting around was quite easy with wide paths, lightly stoned and not so many people. I made good use of my new chair feature being able to tilt in space going up and down the slopes. I can imagine it’s not so easy if you have to push yourself or someone else.

Everything apart from the meerkats were viewable from my height.  The fact you can walk through the tropical house with free flying birds and wander through pens with the wallaby and farm/pet area means you have uninterrupted views.

Map view

There were lots of birds (owls, parrots, flamingos,pelicans and penguins) and a few standard park issue (otters and petting areas for rabbits and goats etc).

Having the wallaby group virtually sitting on your feet is a nice experience 🙂

wallabyWe had lunch in their modern cafe/restaurant – today was more chips and a sausage in a burger bun. I’m not a great fan of chips and could already feel the grease oozing out of my pores.

Much time was spent with the ducks by the lake and I  easily managed to fill up my phone with a hundred and one duck photos.

ducks_me

The tropical house is new and planting wasn’t well established – it was about 80 degrees outside and about 90 in here (my husband left within seconds). I really liked it though and sat with the finches and other birds as they busied themselves munching.

tropical

We were the last people to leave and it was a good day. The only down side was the terrible ‘disabled’ toilet where they had a large space but failed to leave enough space both left and right of the loo (so you could not transfer from a wheelchair). It was another man handling job and sitting slightly sideways whilst praying I wouldn’t fall off. They were also not unisex so my husband had to bee seen walking into a lady’s ‘accessible’ loo. I had to choose to cross my legs for the rest of the day as it was too difficult to go twice.

Changing Room Shock

Last week (Saturday) we stopped at Road Chef Norton Canes, the only services on the M6 Toll Road.

In a hurry to get going we thought we’d pop to the loo before setting off. The accessible toilet was engaged so we waited patiently… and waited… and waited.

At first I didn’t mind because it can take a little while to use the facilities so it was only right to wait. Ten minutes later…

A parent attempted to drag her two young children into the loo – but decides she wasn’t disabled on seeing it was engaged and went to the ladies.

A member of staff saw us and asked if we were waiting. He said a man was praying in there and knocked on the door. We were told he would just be 2 more minutes.

WHAT THE… Did I just hear that correctly ? We have to wait for a guy to finish praying in the loo?

This guy came out wearing a business suit and carrying a suit hanger in his arm. The rest of the wedding party then came in. Is it custom to pray when changing into a wedding suit – and to do it in the only accessible loo?

We went in and the floor was soaked wet so I came out to guard the loo whilst hubs ran to the car for my mat ( I have to stand in bare feet). Whilst waiting I had to stop a second man doing the same. How gracious that he would let me use it first!

Basically it appeared to be ‘saved’ as a changing room by a staff member!

We are still completely stunned at the most appalling takeover of a disabled / accessible toilet we have ever known.

Shame on you wedding guests. 😦

Radar key rip off

Since purchasing an iPhone I’ve been hoovering up toilet apps. Accessible toilets are my nemesis – no toilet and I can’t go out. In other countries, there are free Apps to tell people where they can find public toilets including accessible ones. The Radar Key Scheme in the UK means that thousands of accessible toilets can be accessed only by purchasing a RADAR key.

To my utter shock, they are charging £4.99 for this iPhone app! That’s a premium price I won’t be paying. Ok so the App sales have a limited market and it probably cost a good bit to have made – but even so. None disabled people can find toilets for free – so why should I have to pay for the privilege!