Kelvin Grimes, senior project manager with Clos-o-Mat, the UK's leading supplier of disabled toileting solutions in and out of home, addresses the common site issues affecting a smooth installation of a Changing Places accessible assisted washroom/toilet.
Much of the pressure of completing a construction project- be it new build or a refurbishment/upgrade- can be alleviated simply by logical pre-planning. A little thought at the outset onsite can have a major impact on the speed with which a job can be completed.
Changing Places accessible toilets are a prime example: ‘bigger and better’ than standard wheelchair accessible, Document M type toilets, they incorporate more, and complex, equipment, to provide an appropriate environment for people who need the help of a carer to undertake personal hygiene.
Under the latest Regulations*, it is now ‘desirable’ that they are included in any public building. In excess of 500 are already open across the country, so Changing Places toilets are becoming a common element of any build project to which the public will have access.
Because they include hitherto rarely- installed equipment- such as height adjustable changing benches, hoists, height adjustable washbasins- Changing Places installations are either perceived to be difficult to install, or potential- and often basic- issues not even contemplated! As a result, an installation is often delayed simply because considerations have not been addressed- we have been to site to fit, only to find there is no water supply, no electricity, or only a minimum specification stud wall on which to hang equipment that is supposed to bear the weight of an adult…..
To simplify, a Changing Places toilet is a toilet, just bigger- a minimum of 12m2- and with more equipment.
Water supply if therefore a vital requirement, to operate the flushing of the WC! Suitable drainage is also required. This in itself needs consideration, especially if a shower is included in the specification, as ideally the shower should be level access.
Electricity is also a necessity, with appropriate protection in line with current regulations, to power the hoist, height adjustable equipment, a shower and hand drier. The electrical, water and waste services need to be recessed into the wall, not surface-mounted/run. Also, if the height adjustable changing bed is positioned near the shower, the electricity supply needs to incorporate a RCD and be appropriately insulated.
Walls need to be load bearing, as they have to carry not only the equipment, but the weight of an adult using the equipment. A stud wall is just not strong enough, so ideally use brick and block.
Ceilings need to be high enough- at least 2.4m- to allow the ceiling track hoist to function properly, and suspend the user safely above the floor.
Once installed, the equipment should be commissioned, and then serviced annually, with a LOLER inspection scheduled twice a year.
Service & maintenance contracts provide an efficient solution, giving peace of mind and the assurance that the toilet facility is properly operational regardless of frequency of use.