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Tackling isolation with a unique Changing Places facility for the National Galleries of Scotland

The Innova team are dedicated to creating accessible and inclusive environments. So, we are pleased to share that we partnered with PAMIS and Portakabin to install an extra special Changing Places facility on the Modern One site at the National Galleries of Scotland!

Why was a Changing Places toilet needed?

In the UK, more than 250,000 people need personal assistance to use the toilet or change continence pads, this includes people with spinal injuries or profound and multiple disabilities.

Explaining how they identified a need for a Changing Places facility, Meg Faragher, Communities Learning Coordinator for the Education Department at the National Galleries of Scotland said:

“During our Disabled Access day in 2017, we asked visitors for feedback on how we could improve their experience.

“We learned that because of the nature of caring for someone with complex needs, if one person is unable to visit a venue, because their personal care needs can’t be met, it means the whole family is excluded. This was something we wanted to do something about.”

Modular Changing Place National Galleries of Scotland
Innova installed a modular Changing Places unit outside the National Galleries of Scotland.

Didn’t the gallery already have accessible toilets?

Yes! The Equality Act 2010 ensures facilities provide equal access to toilets for customers or visitors with a disability. The problem is that standard accessible toilets do not provide the appropriate space or equipment for people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

Innova are Changing Places specialists, having installed over 100 in the last decade, so we were able to help design the Changing Places facility before supplying and installing all equipment required to meet Changing Places regulations.

Bob Oliver, Innova’s Projects Director, described what makes Changing Places different:

“The equipment in a Changing Places toilet is more comprehensive than that of a standard accessible toilet. They include a height-adjustable adult-size changing bench and sink so users of different heights, or with different size wheelchairs can use the facilities as they require.

“The most important part of the facility is the ceiling hoist, which covers the entire space by using an x-y system to ensure a person can be moved from their wheelchair to the toilet or changing bench and back to their chair with ease.”

Without these appropriate facilities, people with profound and multiple disabilities are forced to be laid on unhygienic toilet floors or feel unable to leave their homes.

Tailoring the facility to the National Galleries of Scotland’s needs

Initially, planning to install a Changing Places toilet at the National Galleries of Scotland proved difficult.

The Modern One site is a listed building. This means there are a lot of restrictions on what kind of construction work can be carried out.

Emma Anderson, Portaloo Scotland Manager at Portakabin, explained the unique way we overcame the issue:

 “The team was unable to make the significant internal works required to provide a Changing Places toilet inside the building.

“But the Portaloo Accessible Plus unit is a standalone building, which means it can be placed almost anywhere on a site without major disruption. Our team was able to safely install the building within one day and have the facility ready for visitors to use as quickly as possible.

“We’re dedicated to working with as many businesses and tourist attractions as possible to become fully accessible so that we can reduce that feeling of isolation people with disabilities and their families face.”

Innovation is at the heart of everything we do – that’s why we’re called Innova! So, being involved in a project which thought outside of the box to find a solution to important personal care issue has been really rewarding for everyone involved.

Fiona Souter, Information and Inclusive Communities Director at PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society), commented on the positive impact the facility will have:

“There are very few Changing Places toilets available in Scotland, only six of these are at museums. To have a facility at the National Galleries of Scotland is so important as it ensures that people with profound and complex disabilities are able access a cultural venue.”

There still aren’t enough Changing Places

Currently, there are less than 1,430 Changing Places toilets in the UK, with just 205 of these located in Scotland.

An important part of this project was to provide a useful facility for anyone in the local area that requires a public Changing Places toilet.

The National Gallery of Scotland hopes that by placing the facility in the grounds of the gallery, next to accessible parking, users won’t have to go inside or ask permission to use it. This means that we’re providing a much-needed accessible facility for anyone near the centre of Edinburgh.

But having one Changing Places toilet in the area isn’t enough.

If over 250,000 people in the UK require Changing Places facilities, that means there is currently less than 1 appropriate toilet for every 175 people that need one.

We continue to support the Changing Places Consortium, which was co-founded by PAMIS in 2005, in their campaign for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all large public spaces.



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