Headlines: June 25th, 2009

New research shows that almost a quarter of a million people with disabilities have no access to public lavatory facilities that meet their needs. The study was commissioned by the learning disability charity, Mencap, which says carers are often forced to use toilet floors to change the people they are looking after.

The research found 230,252 people, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, were being denied access to adequate facilities. Mencap is now calling for fully accessible lavatories – known as Changing Places toilets – to be available in all big public places. Currently there are only 85 in the country.

The Changing Places facilities are different from standard accessible toilets as they have an adjustable changing bench and a hoist to allow people to use them with assistance or have pads changed. Mencap is urging the Department for Communities and Local Government to amend building regulations to make the lavatories mandatory in all new public places. It has set up an online petition which will be presented to the Department in October.

Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “Every time a carer is forced to change a disabled family member on a dirty toilet floor it is a stain on the conscience of our country.” He called on the Government to take immediate action to make the installation of the facilities mandatory. “Otherwise they will continue to let down a quarter of a million of our most vulnerable citizens,” he added.

More information on the campaign is available at www.mencap.org.uk/changelives