Guernsey Press

Guernsey’s first Changing Places toilet is opened

GUERNSEY’S first Changing Places toilet has opened at the Ron Short Centre at Beau Sejour, providing a life-changing facility for those with disabilities.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 32448795)

The bathroom includes a height-adjustable toilet and sink, a fold-out and height-adjustable full-sized changing bed, and a hoist which can move across the entire room.

This will mean local people with disabilities are more able to attend sports and events knowing that the appropriate facilities are nearby.

Parent and carer Jan Aslett discovered the need for such a facility in 2011 when she had to change her teenage son on a bathroom floor.

‘The need for Changing Places toilets cannot be underestimated. They mean that those with a broader range of issues around toileting can be attended to in a clean, hygienic and dignified matter – no more laying on a cold, wet, dirty, unhygienic public toilet floor.’

The main struggle she had in the campaign was the general lack of understanding why they were needed. People thought that a ‘disabled or accessible’ toilet was sufficient.

There are more than 13,000 people in Guernsey with significant disabilities.

So far the centre has raised a total of £295,000 for the project, but it needs to get to £348,000 to complete the first phase.

The lack of such a facility in Guernsey has restricted the lives of many local people with disabilities, making it virtually impossible for them to attend activities away from home as existing disabled toilets are not accessible to all disabilities.

Ron Short Centre managing director Rob Harnish said that research showed that for a population of the size of the island, there should be at least two CPTs.

‘This is the first facility of its kind, but there will be more. With an obesity crisis and problems that come with that, as well as an ageing population, arthritis, hip replacements, this will make such a big difference,’ he said.

‘At present, we can only make the facility available to members during our opening hours and are working with the States to ensure that it can be made available to the public out of hours via the same access system used at Grand Courtil and Nouvelle Maritaine.

‘We think it is crucial to complete this work before 1 October, when the new discrimination legislation comes into effect.’

He added that only then will Guernsey be able to advertise its presence internationally, demonstrating its openness to visitors with disabilities.