It is estimated that 1 in 260 people in the UK need an adult sized changing bench or hoist to be able to have their continence needs met, many of those will need both.

But with less than 1000 facilities in the UK providing this vital equipment, what happens when it isn’t available?

The consequences of not having this equipment is that people are usually faced with 4 options:

1) Lay on the toilet floor – only possible if they are not too heavy to lift.

2) Sit in their mess until they can go home to be changed – not always an option.

3) Medicate or with-hold fluids to ensure they won’t need the toilet – has dangerous health implications.

4) Don’t go out at all – this is becoming more and more common and families are becoming housebound.

We asked some families to tell us the worst places they’ve resorted to changing their children and young people when a space to change toilet hasn’t been available.

Kay “On the beach with my male cousin trying to shield her with a towel!! Not ideal as she was about 15 at the time”

Miriam “I took my son to an autism support group and was instructed to change my son in the changing room of the football park on a wooden bench littered with belongings from the football team!”

Kelly  “On a table in first class on a train. Gave the business folk something to stare at over their sausages...”

Kirsty “My scariest experience was having to use a baby change because the floor was nasty - only to find that it was really wobbly/pulling down (probably worse because he was so long & not a baby - was within weight limit though - he 5years old & under 15kg!)

It came out lengthwise from the wall, not alongside it, so once he was on it, I had to stand on one leg, like a flamingo, & hold it up with my bent up leg, doing the fastest change ever!

Thank goodness it was only wet! I regretted starting it once I was almost done, but the only other option would have been outside somewhere in the cold!”

Wendy “On an office desk at our local NHS walk in centre!!”

Anon - “His old school changed him on a trampoline as there was nowhere else when they were at a local farm!”

Laura “On a shelf about12” wide in the baby changing area at Walt Disney World, possibly would have been suitable for a baby but my son was 7 at the time. 

This shelf was offered to us by their staff and was in an open area with other families walking through so no privacy at all. 

I had to hold him on the shelf so he didn’t fall off while my husband changed him”

Dougal “Back seat of hatchback (before we got WAV) in carpark of motorway services. Door open for access and snow on the ground, heater on full. Poor little guy was chattering his teeth.”

Jackie “On a stage in a village hall with me holding up a coat!”

Sam “In a plane seat somewhere over the Atlantic with 4 of us trying to hide him behind virgin blankets and two of us trying to heave him up to change him”

Jo “On a bench in Hyde park when my daughter was about 16, I was on my own so I couldn’t even offer her any privacy. 

I cried throughout as people were walking by and staring. 

I’ve never resorted to that since but that day I had no choice as I couldn’t leave her in an explosive nappy”

The saddest thing about these responses is that they are not surprising or rare, people across the UK are doing the same every day. 

Sometimes even when the facilities are available, staff disability training is lacking and has resulted in people still resorting to the toilet floor.

Emma “On the floor of a baby changing room in a hospital because although they had a changing places toilet, I wasn't allowed to use room with hoist as my son didn't need the hoist”

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