Going to the toilet is a basic human right

Laura Rutherford by Laura Rutherford Additional Needs

Laura Rutherford

Laura Rutherford

Mum to Brody & Sydney. Inclusion campaigner. Tesco Junior nappy co-creator.

Going to the toilet is a basic human right

Parents of disabled children who are doubly-incontinent all face the same horrifying dilemma every time they leave the house.

Where can they be changed?

It wasn’t until my son Brody was around the age of 3 that reality crept up on me.

I admit, I was naïve and lived in a disability- free, ignorant bubble until I had him.

At 3 he was fast outgrowing baby changing tables and it was then that it hit me that there was soon to be nowhere to safely change him.

My horror at this led me to discovering the Changing Places toilet campaign.

In case you haven’t heard about Changing Places toilets I’ll describe them to you.

They are larger than standard disabled toilets – around 12m2.

They also have a ceiling track hoist, height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench and centrally placed (peninsular) toilet.

They are life changing and yet in reality meet a very basic need – going to the toilet.

The truth is without Changing Places toilets hundreds of thousands of disabled people in the UK are isolated and excluded from society.

If they go out they have no option but to ‘hold it in’, remain wearing a dirty product or be changed in an unsafe, unhygienic and undignified place - like a toilet floor.

Just let that sink in.

Imagine changing someone on a toilet floor.

Imagine going out for the day and having no access to a toilet.

This is the reality for many. This is our reality. I’ve changed my son on a toilet floor and in a car boot. It’s heartbreaking.

Thankfully the Changing Places toilet campaign has come on leaps and bounds in recent years thanks to many fantastic campaigners and the Changing Places toilet consortium.

But the fact remains there are more toilets in Wembley Stadium alone than there are Changing Places toilets in the UK.

Frightening isn’t it?

My passion for Changing Places toilets has taken me to the UK and Scottish government and it’s led to my job as Changing Places Campaign Coordinator for the charity PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) in Scotland.

Most importantly it’s given me the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people who are all fighting for the same thing – a basic human right.

If you have any question about Changing Places toilets or want to help with the campaign contact the Changing Places toilet consortium.

For questions about England, Wales and Northern Ireland email Muscular Dystophy UK at changingplaces@musculardystrophyuk.org.

For questions about Scotland email PAMIS at pamischangingplaces@dundee.ac.uk.

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