In July 2021, the government announced that there would be a £30m Changing Places fund for local authorities to install more Changing Places across England.
This followed the SNP’s pledge of an additional £10m of funding to increase Changing Place provisions in Scotland.
To help clarify where funding was most needed, a survey was commissioned in April 2021 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers.
Speaking to 1,204 Changing Place users, carers and future users, the survey focused on which areas Changing Places are currently used, as well as finding out where the highest demand for facilities were.
This blog looks at the top three areas where Changing Places users want to see more facilities and provides advice on how they can be installed in those buildings and environments.
Changing Places Survey
Originally announced as part of the 2020 Budget, the £30 million Changing Places fund was put together to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in existing public buildings in England.
Local authorities were invited to ‘opt-in’ in order to receive a proportion of the available funding. This had to be justified by level of need for Changing Place toilets in public venues and tourist attractions and supported by where users wanted them most.
To help ascertain where these facilities were most needed, a survey was commissioned by MHCLG in April 2021, in collaboration with MDUK and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers.
The survey consisted of four focus groups divided between current Changing Places users (male and female), carers and future users.
Each focus group lasted 90 minutes and focused on the following criteria:
- What were the levels of awareness of Changing Places Toilets (CPT)?
- What are the type of building where people most value the current provision of Changing Places toilets?
- What areas of society do Changing Places Toilet users feel least able to access because of a lack of provision?
- What types of buildings that people, who use or could use Changing Places toilets, would most like to see provision within?
According to the results complied by MDUK, Changing Places are most commonly used in retail settings including supermarkets and shopping centres.
However, due to the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of people visiting outdoor public spaces.
Referring to the results from the survey, it is very evident that country parks and open spaces are the number one area where people most want to see Changing Places.
Knowing the importance of Changing Place toilets and making England a more accessible place for all, we now explore the feasibility of the top three prime locations.
Want to learn more about Changing Places?
Having been advocates for the Changing Places campaign for over 10 years now, we are more than happy to share our knowledge and expertise wherever we can. To find out everything there is to know about Changing Places, download our free brochure.
1) Country Parks and Open Spaces
Since March 2020, and the start of the pandemic, strict restrictions were brought in to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has had a huge impact in dictating where people have been able to go, and as a result, played a significant role in the results that came out of the Changing Places survey.
With indoor venues forced to close during lockdowns, there has been a huge rise in the number of people visiting local parks and outdoor spaces, and with the science advice that outdoor spaces were more preferential to indoor spaces, we can all understand the influence this has had on the survey results.
So it is no surprise to see country parks and open spaces appearing at the top the list when the survey asked Changing Places users, carers and future users about which areas needed accessible facilities the most.
Not only did the survey highlight the area where this need was greatest, it also looked at the places within those areas.
When looking at country parks and open spaces, the following places ranked the highest in terms of requiring a Changing Place:
- Caravan parks
In order for users, their families and carers to ‘have a day out’ in those places, and undertake more recreational activities with dignity, confidence and freedom, a lot more needs to be done to improve accessibility nationwide.
One of the problems that local authorities have when looking to include a Changing Place in a park or beach is the lack of appropriate existing buildings within those environments.
Being open spaces, they rarely include existing structures where a Changing Place can be installed.
However, there is a solution that can solve that issue.
Modular Changing Places
Not every building or venue has the ability to fit a Changing Place into their existing structure – that’s why Innova Care Concepts offer the option for a modular Changing Places facility!
They are pre-fabricated units that can be situated wherever needed to provide accessible toilet facilities for disabled users.
Built fully off-site, the facility can be installed in half a day onto a prepared base with services already in place, providing a quick and effective way of including a compliant Changing Place.
Without including a Changing Place, families are faced with the option of having to change the person they care for in a cramped disabled toilet, limit outings to a few short hours or to not go out at all.
By including a modular Changing Place in a park or beach, it makes open areas more accessible, helping make days out a bit easier for families and their carers as they have the confidence that there are suitable changing and toileting facilities available. Not to mention the ‘purchasing power’ they bring with them!
Modular Changing Places Overview
To learn more about what is included in a modular Changing Place, download our Modular Changing Places Overview.
2) Tourist Attractions
One of the standout figures to come from the survey was the fact that one in five (21%) respondents said that without a nearby Changing Place toilet, it made it impossible for them to have a day out.
Ranked second in the survey in the list of areas where there is a demand for more Changing Places, tourist attractions can help tackle that issue by attracting more visitors if they have suitable facilities available.
Many tourist venues are designed for families to spend the day there, but if they don’t include suitable toileting and changing provisions, those with disabilities either have to manage their fluid intake, limit the amount of time they spend at a venue or avoid it all together.
Visitor attractions (e.g. aquariums), zoos/safari parks and museums/galleries featured in the top three tourist attractions where users, carers and potential users want to see more facilities installed.
Although they are not a legal requirement in all existing public buildings, access to a Changing Places facility will make your attraction more attractive to a large group of people, and as a result, enable venues and businesses the opportunity to benefit from the ‘Purple Pound’.
Did you know that in the UK alone, the Purple Pound – the spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth a staggering £274 billion? However, less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market.
Many businesses, especially those in the tourism and the leisure industry, are capitalising on this untapped market by improving disability access in order to attract more disabled customers.
By installing accessible toilet facilities and making your business suitable for those with even the most severe mobility issues, you are upgrading your attraction to the highest level.
From looking at the survey, it is clear that if tourist attractions do not have the correct facilities, families of disabled people simply will not visit the venue. It is vital to remember that their days out and holidays away are planned around having suitable toileting facilities in place.
Science Museum Group
In the last 18 months, Innova Care Concepts have seen a real increase in the number of tourist venues that are wanting to make their attractions more accessible to visitors.
One of those venues that we have worked with is the Science Museum Group, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, consisting of five British museums.
“One of our aims is to be open for all and the ability to offer Changing Places toilets will allow us to welcome all visitors.”
Only 55 registered Changing Places toilets are currently in museums, galleries and art centres in the UK, so the Science Museum Group were eager to make their venues open for all, ensuring they were equipped with facilities that catered for different accessibility requirements.
Working with Resolution Interiors, we were able to install Changing Places toilets at the Museum of Science and Industry, the National Science and Media Museum and the Science Museum in London.
Read our case study for more details.
3) Transport Networks
There are over 250,000 people in the UK with disabilities, meaning they require help with changing and using the toilet.
Without a suitable accessible toilet, having a rest stop and toilet break is almost impossible when travelling.
That is why transport networks, specifically motorway services, airports and railway stations, sit in the top three areas where Changing Places are most needed.
If we look at motorway services in England as an example, there is only one registered Changing Place on the M6 Southbound – that’s a 232 mile stretch of motorway!
By having a lack of accessible changing and toilet facilities in that transport network, those with a disability and their families are faced with a choice – sit uncomfortably for hours, put themselves at risk using unsuitable facilities, or avoid long-distance travel altogether.
Solutions for Transport Networks
To help alleviate the lack of accessible toilets in transport networks, there are a couple of solutions that can help increase the number of Changing Places in those areas.
One of those is accessing current funding provided by the government.
In addition to the £30 million fund that was announced in the 2020 budget, there are also other funding pots that specifically focus on transport.
For instance, funding for Changing Places in service stations has been provided after the Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, announced in 2020 that £1.27 million would be made available to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.
To date, there are currently 26 motorway service areas with a registered Changing Places toilet. We hope to see this number increase thanks to the funding made available from the Department for Transport.
For more information on why Changing Places are so important for transport networks, take a look at the following blog:
As a result of the research carried out by MDUK in their survey, we have seen that Changing Places users, their families and carers would like to see future provision in areas enabling them to ‘have a day out’, with a key focus on outdoor spaces (including parks and beaches) and tourist attractions.
Transport networks also require urgent action, allowing those with disabilities to travel in confidence, knowing that they have somewhere to stop, change and refresh in a safe and dignified way.
Through available funding and innovation, there are more opportunities than ever before to ensure Changing Places are installed in the areas where they are needed the most.
To install a Changing Place in your venue, get in touch with our friendly team.