Patients and visitors at Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital can now benefit from a state-of-the-art Changing Places facility – a dedicated space which supports the needs of those with learning and/or physical disabilities.
People with severe disabilities, such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, and their carers say Changing Places facilities can be life changing and allow them to go out in public or attend hospital appointments without fear or stress.
Changing Places are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people and include equipment such as hoists, privacy screens, adult-sized changing benches, peninsula toilets and space for carers.
Marcus Watkin, Patient Experience Volunteer, championed for the installation of the facility at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.
He said: “This is an absolutely fantastic addition to the already excellent facilities at RJAH.
“Whilst it’s probably going to be used by a small percentage of people, it will make a huge difference to the experience of our disabled service users.
“Disabled people like myself are often very apprehensive when visiting places in case there is a need for something like this, however with this facility, it’s less of a concern for visitors who may need extra support.”
The new facility at the Oswestry-based hospital is one of only seven across Shropshire to gain accreditation by Changing Places – the national directory of fully accessible toilet facilities for people with disabilities.
Michael Bowen, Estates Capital Manager, said: “Accessible toilets, like the superb Changing Places facilities, provide an essential public service.
“In order to officially be added to the Changing Places map, we had to ensure a number of standards were met, which required careful planning and consideration.
“However, our Estates and Facilities Team welcomed the challenged and the opening of this facility shows our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for all service users at RJAH.”
Sara Ellis-Anderson, Interim Chief Nurse, said: “We are delighted to open this facility for our visitors and believe it will improve experiences for people with disabilities and carers when using our services.” The toilet is located in the hospital’s main entrance to be easily accessible to service users and visitors.