Changing Places facility for people with profound disabilities opens in Castlecourt
Belfast city centre's first Changing Places facility for people with disabilities has opened in Castlecourt shopping centre.
Standard toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability but a Changing Places toilet has additional facilities including a hoist, adult sized changing bench and a screen or curtain for privacy.
Michaela Hollywood is a Trailblazers Campaign Officer with Muscular Dystrophy UK and said the bathroom would give her more freedom and confidence when spending the day in the city centre.
"I’m unable to use any toilet which doesn’t have a hoist and bench. I frequently shop in CastleCourt which is a great location during these winter months. Until now, I couldn’t spend a penny when out shopping - so I had to restrict my fluid intake, and this impacts on my enjoyment of a day out with family.”
According to Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Changing Places Consortium, more than 250,000 people in the UK with severe disabilities need access to Changing Places facilities which provide a safe and clean environment as well as dignity.
Without access to Changing Places toilets people with severe disabilities are faced with a choice of not going out or being changed on a toilet floor, according to Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK.
“Seeing a Changing Places toilet sign shows that a shopping centre, airport or tourist attraction is fully accessible for a disabled person. We hope others will follow CastleCourt’s lead, so we can see many more of these important signs going up all over the UK. By building more Changing Places toilets, we can help to tackle the exclusion many disabled people face.”
Centre Director for CastleCourt Paul McMahon said it was hoped the new bathroom "will have a positive impact on many people with disabilities, their family and carers".