Premier League football clubs are fast approaching the deadline. No, not the transfer window deadline, the Changing Places installation deadline. Believe it or not, around a third of clubs in top tier football are set to miss their own deadline to install a Changing Places toilet in their stadium. Not only does this mean that disabled fans’ needs are not being met, it also sends the message that clubs simply don’t care about disabled facilities; at least not enough to invest in them.
On a match day, Premiership clubs can expect anywhere between 11,000 and 76,000 fans to attend. Let’s take Chelsea as an example; at their latest home game against Southampton (25/4/17), they had an attendance of 41,168. This is just 495 seats short of their stadium capacity. 107 of these are designated wheelchair spaces. The National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS) recommend that stadiums should have a disabled access toilet for every 15 wheelchair spectators, therefore Stamford Bridge should have about 7 disabled access loos close enough for disabled fans to use.
Bearing this in mind, we wanted to take a look at how many of these disabled fans may require the facilities of a Changing Places toilet rather than a standard disabled access one. The Changing Places Consortium estimates that about 230,000 people across the country would find better support and comfort in a Changing Places toilet. We reckon that around 10 people in the Stamford Bridge crowd would’ve benefited from a Changing Place. And when your fans aren’t getting the facilities or the treatment they deserve, then why should they bother buying season tickets or showing up at all?
The fact is that Changing Places are simple to install and they aren’t too expensive. They also can facilitate the needs of a winder group of people, rather than a select few disabled facilities. We recently installed a Changing Places hoist system at the Riverside Stadium – home to Middlesbrough FC. To make sure that their Changing Place was true to standards, we adhered with the BS8300:2009 regulations. At the Riverside, the Changing Places facility includes:
- Room Dimensions: The room needs to be big to fit all the equipment comfortably without impinging on the supporter’s ability to move around with ease. This means that the room had to be at least 3 x 4 metres, with a ceiling height of 2.4 metres. The doorway also had a clearing width of 1 metre with a level threshold, so that fans can get in and out of the loo with ease.
- Signage: The Changing Place was well signposted throughout the stadium so that disabled supporters know where to go as soon as they get through the turnstiles. The Changing Place was also signposted separately to the standard disabled toilets and baby changing facilities, meaning that it will only be used by those who actually need it.
- Overhead Hoist: We supplied and installed the hoist track and unit with a safe working load of 200kg. For the Riverside Stadium, we thought that an X-Y system was the best option because it meant that the supporter could easily access ay point of the room. It also makes it a lot easier to transfer in and out of a wheelchair, meaning that the fan can use the facilities and not be away from the match for too long!
- Changing Bench: Middlesbrough’s Changing Place also had a changing bench installed in case the fan needed to be showered or changed to keep comfortable throughout the match. We suggest that the changing bench should be height-adjustable with a safe working load of 125kg.
- Bins: Middlesbrough had also catered to their fans by including a large sanitary bin and a regular waste disposal bin at the edge of the room so they didn’t obstruct their fans getting back to their seats after halftime!
- Height Adjustable Basin: By including a height adjustable basin, it makes it much easier for a variety of supporters to use the sink at a comfortable level. We suggest that the sink be power-operated so that it’s easier and more efficient for the fan to use.
- Doc M Pack: A Doc M Pack is a selection of different grab rails and bars that are installed throughout the Changing Place. At the Riverside, these were strategically placed around the room to offer extra grip and support for the disabled fan. They also had a drop-down rail at either side of the toilet to help with getting on and off the loo.
- Privacy Screen: Middlesbrough also included a retractable privacy screen to give the supporter dignity whilst they used the facilities.
Although this may seem like quite a large list, it doesn’t have to be a challenge to fit it all into one room. At Innova, we specialise in designing Changing Place layouts and installing them from start to finish. We can ensure that everything is up to spec and abides by the Accessible Stadia guidelines as well as the BS8300:2009, so that your Changing Place can be a registered facility in your stadium.