Modular Changing Places: Enhancing Accessibility

Following the government’s announcement of a £30m Changing Places fund in July 2021, the need for accessible toilet facilities is greater than ever before.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, a survey was created to find out where this funding is most needed.

As a result of this research, MDUK have reported 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.

Due to the fact that not every building or area can accommodate an internal Changing Place, we will be looking at how the introduction of modular Changing Places can provide a quick and simple solution to make outdoor spaces and tourist attractions more accessible.

1)     £30m Changing Places Fund

Originally announced as part of the 2020 Budget, the £30 million Changing Places fund was created to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in existing public buildings in England.

It involves local authorities being invited to ‘opt-in’ to receive a proportion of this funding, based on need, to install facilities in existing public venues and tourist attractions, providing a significant increase in areas where users want them most.

On the 29th July 2021, the government announced that funding applications were open to local authorities in England to submit their expressions of interest, with a deadline of the 26th September for submissions to be completed.

To be eligible, district and unitary authorities must have their expressions of interest signed by a named officer with the appropriate authority, and be approved by the Section 151 Officer.

Want to learn more about the £30m Changing Places fund? Check out our blog below:

How will the funding be allocated?

Once an expression of interest form has been completed by a local authority, MHCLG ministers will make decisions on where the final funding will be allocated.

These will be decided by considering a number of key criteria, including the number of expressions of interest and Changing Places toilets that can be delivered, and their geographical spread.

This accounts for 40% of the overall weighting.

The remaining 60% assesses the ‘value for money’ of each authority’s proposal, looking at the following three factors:

  1. The number of new Changing Places toilets that will be produced for the funding asked for (25%)
  2. The amount of match funding from the local authority and partners (10%)
  3. Quality of the proposal including:
    •  Types of location/venues/facilities in which new Changing Places are proposed
    •  Rationale in how local authorities have arrived at that decision
    •  Consultation with users
    •  Deliverability

2)     Changing Places Survey

To help local authorities in England understand where the Changing Places fund is most needed, a survey was commissioned by MHCLG in April 2021, in collaboration with 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.

One of the most striking figures to come out of this 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.

Without an accessible toilet that is equipped with specialist equipment such as adult-sized changing benches, those with complex care requirements are unable to visit and enjoy venues that many of us take for granted.

Changing Places Survey Result

Learn more about the importance of Changing Places by reading this blog:

Where are Changing Places most needed? 

According to MDUK, Changing Places are most commonly used in retail settings including supermarkets and shopping centres.

However, in order for users, their families, and carers to ‘have a day out’ and undertake more recreational activities with dignity, confidence, and freedom, a lot more needs to be done to improve accessibility nationwide.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of people visiting outdoor public spaces and tourist attractions, including country parks and beaches.

It is therefore no surprise to see that over 63% in the survey want to see a Changing Place installed in those areas.

Changing Places survey stats April 2021

So how can we help meet that demand?

Despite most Changing Places being installed in an existing building, there is a solution that will enable outdoor public spaces to include these facilities – modular Changing Places!

3) Modular Changing Places

As we have seen, not every building or venue has the ability to fit a Changing Place into their existing structure.

With a modular Changing Place, that isn’t a problem.

Slightly larger than a Portakabin, these mobile units can be situated wherever needed to provide the required space and specialist equipment to register as a Changing Places toilet.

In a matter of days, it can be delivered and lifted into position on-site as a complete unit, helping minimise disruption to any environment.

Interior of Changing Places Facility at the National Galleries of Scotland

This provides the perfect answer for those who are looking to have a Changing Place facility installed at their local park or seaside resort.

Usually, those types of areas would be difficult to access due to a lack of sufficient facilities, but with mobile units, they can be positioned outside to make those areas accessible to all.

Not seen a modular Changing Places before?

Check out the video below to see how they fit into an outside space, without compromising on the standards expected with a registered Changing Places facility:

Enhancing Accessibility

As one of the leading Changing Places providers, we have come across many venues where a Changing Place is difficult to install due to planning permission.

Those reasons can vary from an inability to meet size requirements to a building being Listed, and therefore modification of existing facilities to incorporate a Changing Places toilet are simply not possible.

This is where a modular Changing Places offers a simple solution.

For instance, when the National Galleries of Scotland wanted to install a Changing Place, they had an issue that they couldn’t install a facility internally because it was a Listed building.

Modular Changing Places at National Galleries of Scotland
We helped the National Galleries of Scotland become more accessible by installing a modular Changing Place.

To overcome these challenges, we installed a modular Changing Place facility in the visitor car park.

Using a Portaloo Accessible Plus unit, we were able to include all the specialist equipment needed, such as a changing bench with side panels and a overhead hoist system, to ensure our installation was registered as a compliant Changing Place facility.

With it being delivered to site as a complete unit, we were also able to install in just one day, creating minimal disruption for visitors and staff.

Want to learn more about our work with the National Galleries of Scotland?

Read our case study:

Summary

Following research undertaken by MDUK and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, it is clear to see which areas are in desperate need of a Changing Place.

Country parks, beaches and tourist attractions sit right at the top in terms of priority areas for larger accessible toilets.

Typically, this would be a challenge with most Changing Places having to be installed within an existing structure due to the limitations on space and infrastructure, but with the introduction of modular Changing Places, this helps to solve that problem.

Not only can a modular Changing Places be delivered as a single unit and installed into a location that works for you, typically they are also more affordable in overall delivery and installation, making this a win-win!

With the applications deadline fast approaching for local authorities to express their interest in applying for the government’s £30m funding pot, modular Changing Places are a great innovation and exciting solution that can help deliver accessible facilities where they are needed most.

GET A QUOTE FOR YOUR CHANGING PLACE

Unsure as to the next steps to take?

We are here to help and support you through your application.

Having installed hundreds of Changing Places facilities over the years, we have an extremely experienced team that can guide you through every stage.

Do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss layout designs, room renders, advice on regulations and full quotations.

Why not make an appointment now – Book a Changing Places appointment