New changing facility for disabled in Stoke-On-Trent

An innovative changing and toilet facility for disabled people has been provided in the Potteries Shopping Centre car park in Stoke-on-Trent by Portable Offices in response to an urgent plea by Mencap for more facilities of this type.

Portable Cabin inserted into gap in shopping centre

Mencap’s Changing Places campaign highlights the need for more purpose-built facilities for people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and others with serious impairments and physical disabilities.

Stoke-on-Trent had no facilities appropriate to the needs of the City’s disabled people who rely on carers to assist with toileting and changing.  As a result, the Council liaised with the charity to identify a suitable location and facilities to address the issue.

Changing bed facility

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It is actually quite horrifying to consider that the needs of many disabled people are overlooked when it comes to toileting and changing. Many of these people rely on one or even two carers to help them with these tasks and they can easily feel marginalised by the lack of facilities provided.

“In effect, it means that for shopping or leisure they may actually be confined to areas close to home or to those few places that do actually provide them with the facilities they require.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council took up the gauntlet and identified a likely location in the underground car park at the Potteries Shopping Centre next to the Mobility shop and several free car parking spaces.

The awkward access situation necessitated an innovative solution and the Council contacted Portable Offices who developed a flexible pod which was large enough to accommodate the necessary equipment but compact enough to fit into the designated area.

“A portable facility really was the best option for our needs. There was no compromise on quality but it really was a flexible solution,” Ruth explained, “the space was very tight with no access overhead but the Portable Offices team was amazing.  They were helpful and professional and made the installation look easy despite the poor access.”

The Council has seen a significant positive response from the community:  “The facility has proven to be a lifeline for these people and has meant they can come out and enjoy the Potteries’ leisure and shopping experience without any underlying anxiety,” Ruth concluded.

A total turnkey service was provided by Portable Offices on this, the first Changing Places facility they have installed. The project included a non-slip floor, water, waste and power services, a disabled access ramp and adult-sized changing bench, a tracking hoist system, centrally placed toilet with room either side for carers, a large waste bin and screen to allow privacy for the user.

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