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The Great Nappy Debate

Laura Moore by Laura Moore Additional Needs

Laura Moore

Laura Moore

Mum to William, the coolest kid in town (who happens to have quadraplegic cerebral palsy). Campaigner, blogger, baker and general fixer.

To finally have this issue discussed on daytime TV on one of the biggest ITV shows was very exciting to me (I must get out more)

So, you can imagine my disappointment when the debate they were talking about wasn’t the one I had presumed it would be.

To me, the great nappy debate would be about why disabled children have to lay on toilet floors to have their nappies changed, and why disabled adults don’t even have that ‘luxury’.

It turned out what they considered to be “the great nappy debate” was simply one mother choosing to change their baby in a public area.

Her choice to change her baby in front of people was met with outrage and people were up in arms.

The poll went crazy, over 1000 people commented on the Facebook post and everyone on my newsfeed was talking about how outraged they were.

Really?  Outraged to hear that one mother didn’t have access to a baby changing facility one time, in one place?

People were shocked that a mother would not be able to change her baby because she had twins and couldn’t fit the double buggy into the room where the baby change facility was.

There were numerous comments from people saying that the mother did the right thing as she couldn’t be expected to lay her other baby on a toilet floor or leave it outside.

What would their reaction be if they knew that parents across the UK have no choice BUT to lay their disabled children the toilet floor and face this exact issue every single time they leave the house?

Not just in one place, on one day, one time.

Would they be as outraged to hear that families of disabled children face this inequality every day when away from home?

Or that they face the same issue if they have more than one child because it is impossible to fit a wheelchair and several children into a disabled toilet and still have space on the floor for the disabled one to lay down?

I would hope they would be as outraged about those ¼ million people as they are about this one baby.  But experience tells me otherwise.

This is the REAL great nappy debate.  The one that should be being discussed on mainstream, daytime TV.

This is the debate that people should be outraged by and want to do something about.

But in reality, it isn’t glamorous or interesting enough to be on daytime TV because disabled people don’t bring in the viewers.

Unless of course you call them “inspirational” and talk about how they have overcome adversity.

The real life, nitty gritty, and harsh reality of having a disabled child, or being disabled is not deemed as newsworthy, or interesting to mainstream audiences.

As long as we don’t discuss it, it won’t affect us.

And on the odd occasions it has made mainstream news, such as when it was discussed on Channel 4 news last year, or BBC News earlier this year, the reaction isn’t outrage.

It is quite the opposite.

The people who were outraged that this mother had to change her baby in a public place, would probably be outraged that disabled people would expect to have facilities to allow them to have their continence needs met.

We know people expect baby changing facilities to be provided.

We know people would think it essential and entirely appropriate for all shops, restaurants and public buildings which provide a toilet to also provide a baby changing facility.

But for some reason, most people who would consider those facilities essential, would say we can’t expect the same places to provide something similar for a disabled child or adult.

Because we can all empathise with someone needing to change their baby.  It’s a normal thing, people have babies and they need to be changed.

We understand it.  We know how to fix it and we expect businesses to understand it too.

But disability is not the same.  Unless you are disabled or have a loved one who is, then this issue is probably something you’ve never even imagined happens.

You have probably never even wondered how a disabled person goes to the loo, I mean, they just use a disabled toilet right?

But this is an issue that happens every single day.

And it needs discussing.

People need to know about it. And they need to do something to change it.

It’s time to be outraged for the ¼ million people who find themselves in a similar position every single day.

The ¼ million people who are too disabled to use a disabled toilet.

A standard disabled toilet is only usable by someone who can transfer themselves to a toilet.  If you cannot do that, then you cannot use a disabled toilet.

If you cannot stand to remove your clothes and/or pad or nappy, then you cannot use a disabled toilet.

If you need to lay down to be cleaned and dressed after using a toilet, then you cannot use a disabled toilet.

If you require a hoist to lift you from your wheelchair onto the toilet, then you cannot use a disabled toilet.

You would need a facility known as a changing places toilet.  A facility which includes an adult sized changing table and a hoist as well as a toilet and basin.

If my disabled child had needed the toilet in the same café as the lady discussed on Loose Women this week then I would have had to choose between laying him on the toilet floor or leaving completely.   because I would not have had the option of changing him where she changed her baby.

Because he is 8 years old and it would be completely inappropriate to undress an 8 year old in a public area where you might consider changing a baby.

So, this is the REAL nappy debate:

Should all large buildings which provide toilets to the public also provide a changing places style toilet to ensure that everyone’s continence needs can be managed in a safe and dignified manner?


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