5 Essential Products Needed in a Disabled Toilet
Whether you’re fitting out your washroom for the first time or just reviewing your existing facilities, you’ll want to make sure they’re accessible for all. This includes providing accessible toilets for people who are disabled so they can visit your premises with dignity and with exactly the same rights as everyone else that enters your door.
To ensure an organisation does provide adequate provisions for all, the Equality Act 2010 sets this out in law so there is a legal obligation on organisations. However, to be fully inclusive and to give everybody an equal and positive experience of your organisation, the right question to be asking is not ‘what’s the minimum we need to do’ but ‘what’s the best we can do’.
In this blog, we will explore the practical elements you need to consider for your disabled toilets but also how you can also go the extra mile.
What is the law on disabled toilets?
The Equality Act 2010 states that all organsiations have a duty to provide accessible goods and services. This includes equal access to toilet facilities for disabled employees, visitors or customers. The law does not set out a list of minimum standards as such but requires organisations to provide a reasonable provision.
However, the term “reasonable” can be open to interpretation and it’s too easy for organisations to underestimate the extent of their obligations. If toilet facilities aren’t accessible to all, excuses such as cost and space are not likely to cut it.
Organisations are also subject to building regulations for disabled toilets, set out in the Approved Document M which covers the access and use of buildings. These regulations detail the design considerations for disabled toilet provisions including location, size and the positioning of the toilet, rails and washbasin.
What are Changing Places?
Changing Places Toilets cater for a wider range of needs, allowing everyone regardless of their access needs or disability to use toilet facilities hygienically and with dignity. These facilities include a peninsular toilet, ceiling hoist and adjustable changing bench. New public buildings with a capacity of more than 350 users are now required to provide Changing Places Toilets. However, any organisation of any sector and any size is welcomed – and very much encouraged – to offer Changing Places Toilets for greatly enhanced accessibility. More details can be found on the Changing Places website.
What should be provided in disabled toilets?
- Space: An accessible toilet should provide enough space for a wheelchair user to enter and manoeuvre easily. You’ll also need to bear in mind that some users may require the assistance of a carer to support them too which is another reason why disabled cubicles need to be larger. The recommended size is at least 2,220mm x 1,500mm. The cubicle should not be used for any other purpose – this includes being used as a storage space for mop buckets and cleaning supplies or other boxes. These are not only a potential hazard, taking up valuable space, but can also make your toilets appear unwelcoming to users.
- Easy-use equipment: Everything in your disabled toilet should be designed to be accessible for all and it is likely adjustments will be needed in terms of the positioning of your equipment and their ease of use. This includes having space around your toilet to enable transfer to and from a wheelchair, grab rails to support wheelchair users and people with limited mobility as well as a sink which is low level or height adjustable. The door to the toilet should open outwards so it’s easier to exit the cubicle – as well as not encroaching on space – with horizontal bars to assist use. The most accessible toilet doors are ones which open automatically.
- Alarm: Accessible toilets should have an alarm system in place which can be operated easily. Depending on the layout and size of the space, you may want to consider multiple alarm points so that if there is an accident, the alarm can be activated no matter where the user is – including at ground level in case of a fall. Have a procedure in place so that if the alarm is activated, support can be provided should it be needed. This includes training all staff so they are aware of the procedure.
- Accessible supplies: A large, paddle-style flush which can be pushed downwards is recommended for toilets as well as having grips on taps and soap dispensers to aid operation. Automatic, sensor-activated flushes, taps and dispensers offer the ultimate in both easy use and hygiene. You’ll also want to plan out where you position washroom supplies including toilet roll, soap and the hand dryer or paper towels. The toilet roll will need to be close to the toilet for easy reach while the soap dispenser and paper towels should be positioned lower and near to the sink, so users don’t have to navigate around the cubicle with wet hands. Don’t forget to include incontinence bins within the toilet cubicle which can be used for sanitary waste, nappies and incontinence waste too.
- The finishing touches: To show people you care and that you want to give them a positive experience of your organisation, consider a few small extras which can make all the difference. This can include offering hygienic toilet seat sanitiser, sanitary and incontinence bins, sanitary waste bags to aid disposal or vending machines providing period products. Of course, you’ll want to implement a regular cleaning protocol to ensure the facilities are clean and inviting but you can enhance this by adding an air freshener for a welcoming fragrance or even an air purification system such as phs’ AERAMAX which physically removes impurities and odours from the air or phs’ BIOZONE which sterilises the environment using UV light technology.
phs Direct is your complete hygiene solutions provider of workplace consumables, from washroom consumable products such as toilet roll, soap and paper towels to janitorial supplies, cleaning chemicals, laundry and housekeeping products and safety equipment. To view our full product range, visit our online portal.