Should public buildings have dementia-friendly toilets?

Discussion in 'Alzheimer's Society notices' started by SophieD, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. SussexDave

    SussexDave Registered User

    Apr 19, 2012
    Dear Sophie,

    Thank you for highlighting this issue. I can only speak of experience of caring for one individual (my mother) but I think that this is a very important aspect of dementia care.
    Short car journeys, e.g. to the supermarket, were a key part of our life outside the house. The most important aspects of our need for toilets were: 1. Quick access, 2. Normal provision for the disabled if the space was sufficient for the sufferer and a wheelchair, 3. Access by the carer, in the early stages I could wait outside but eventually had to accompany mum as she would be unable to open the door or sound the alarm.
    If the provision of the extra facilities is to be limited, may I suggest that their locations are well publicised so that those that need them and their carers are able to plan their journeys.
    I hope my comments will be helpful. If anyone has questions I would be happy to explain.
    Regards Dave
  2. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Volunteer Host

    Apr 1, 2016
    I know I said earlier that this sort of facility would be no use to me and my dad as he was past enjoying going out by the the time anything of this kind would be needed. The same was true of my mum. But it has occurred to me that the addition of a carer who could be called on to assist in changing would have been invaluable - even in normal disabled toilets. I say this cos my dad (understandably) was very adverse to any help from me (his daughter)

    Of course this is an extra expense
  3. martinjohn

    martinjohn Registered User

    Jan 2, 2012
    #23 martinjohn, Jun 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  4. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    The 'changing places' toilets are for all those with disabilities/complex care needs, not just those with dementia - the same as standard disabled toilets are currently available to all:

    I would agree with other posters here that once someone with dementia requires hoisting there would likely be other difficulties - not just toileting - that would mean that visiting airports, leisure centres etc would be problematical, but I can see the potential benefits of the changing places toilets for those with other conditions. I wouldn't agree that having toilet facilities specifically designed for wheelchair users, those with disabilities etc 'is alienating' these individuals from the mainstream - that's what was happening before disabled toilets were introduced.
  5. Andy G

    Andy G New member

    Apr 25, 2019
    I think in theory this is a great idea.

    However, not all of the pictures on the Changing Places website of the toilets are fully dementia friendly. In at least a couple of the photographs the toilets are white with a white toilet seat and there is a lack of colour contrast in another (light floors/light walls). Is there clear signage are the taps familiar? If the Alzheimer's society are to support I would want to firstly know that they have ensured that the toilets are fully dementia friendly and that Changing Places does understand what this means.

    I think the government should increase the number of these type of toilets, but they must provide the funding in order to do this. In our area (Bournemouth and Poole), and i understand many other areas, we have seen many of the public toilet blocks being closed to save money (the complete opposite of an age friendly and dementia friendly policy). So if the government are to do this there should also be a lobbying to insist that they also make money available in order for this to happen and not expect businesses to pick up the cost.

    If these toilets were to be made all dementia friendly as well as fully accessible I think it would be right for them to be within the building regulations for new developments of certain types of buildings.

    What types of buildings should they be in - I think they should be in airports, bus stations, shopping centres, libraries and available in all council run buildings.

    It has been pointed out in this discussion elsewhere that when someone is living with dementia and these facilities would become a necessity it is unlikely that that person would be our and about anyway. However, I'm in favour of any improvement in the provision of public toilets.
  6. Susan Wilson

    Susan Wilson Registered User

    Dec 27, 2011
    In my experience standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of individuals with dementia. My mum needs support with toileting and changing so we need to use disabled toilets in terms of space and hand rails etc however the low sinks are a real issue as my mum is unable to bend down in order for me to wash her hands and equally the hand driers are usually very low. Disabled toilets are currently designed for less mobile people and consideration needs to be given for individuals with differing needs. Equally a bigger cubicle with hand rails within normal toilets would work.
  7. Fullticket

    Fullticket Registered User

    Apr 19, 2016
    Chard, Somerset
    Just back from a lovely wedding in Dublin so may be duplicating comments here. Our local hospital dementia ward had 'ordinary' loo rolls on holders. Nothing fancy like huge rolls on those big plastic holders and definitely not the ones where the paper is pulled out of a hole in the middle. Mum did not understand anything other than the old system (and often commented that, to her, the rolls were threaded round the wrong way!).
  8. SophieD

    SophieD Administrator
    Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2018
    Thank you to everyone who has given feedback on this thread so far. Some insightful points highlighted include the need for the location of changing places toilets to be well publicised, the addition of a carer who could be called on to assist, and the lack of colour contrast that could be an issue to someone with dementia.

    Whether you're someone with dementia or caring for someone with dementia, does the availability (or unavailability) of accessible toilets impact your life?
  9. Michael E

    Michael E Registered User

    Apr 14, 2005
    Ronda Spain
    One of the problems I had travelling with Monique was that airports do not seem to have changing or disabled facilities outside of the Male or Female toilets..

    I used to take her to the loo and send her in and then spend a considerable length of time hovering outside waiting for her to find her way out-- Used to get some odd looks from various ladies and occasionally had to ask them to find Monique for me!

    Airports have excellent toilet facilities but tend not to have separate disabled rooms.
  10. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    @Michael E so nice to see you again, it's been a long time. I see you've moved.
  11. Lilye

    Lilye Registered User

    Oct 15, 2016
    #32 Lilye, Jul 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
    Thank you for the link. Since I posted the above comment Mum is now fully incontinent so is very much restricted when going out. I badly wanted to take her to the coast for a couple of nights with her carer and thankfully found a company who rent and deliver hoists. I have ordered one for August when we go and I am just relieved that we can do this however the expense is high as you have to pay for a minimum of a week, even though we can actually have it for the 3 days, plus delivery and collection fees.We need the hoist at the hotel so have no choice but to hire one as although we have a wheelchair accessible room, with wet room, again no hoists so yet another type of place that needs these hoists. IA brilliant bit of luck though is that through your link I can see that the seaside place we are visiting does have one of these hoist toilets so that will save having to take Mum back to the hotel every 3 hours, or less, to change her.
  12. Handel

    Handel Registered User

    Sep 13, 2014
    There should be male-female public toilets! As a female carer for my husband, I really need to be with him when goes! He now gets confused trying to be 'ready' in time and often has an accident whilst fumblng to find his zip etc..!
  13. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    I found that some places had their disabled access toilets in the ladies and the gents. That made it almost impossible for me to take my husband in. In a railway station I was told to let someone know and they would clear the toilets so I could go in with him. Not good.
  14. SophieD

    SophieD Administrator
    Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2018
    Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback on this thread.

    The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are reviewing feedback to the consultation and we’ll hopefully receive a response in the Autumn, which we’ll then be able to share with you.

    In the meantime, if you’d like to see a copy of the response submitted by Alzheimer’s Society, please send us an email at and we’ll get that emailed over to you.

    Thank you again :)
  15. Quizbunny

    Quizbunny Registered User

    Nov 20, 2011
    Having worked for many years with families of profoundly disabled children I can say that toilets that can cater for all types of disability most definitely should be available.
  16. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    A very new building with super modern toilet facilities, so modern no one could work out where to get a squirt of soap and how did you get the water?

    Everything was set behind the mirror and little shadow images indicated where the access to liquid soap and water was. The toilet area was separated from the wash up area by a closed door and one poor lady couldn't find her way out.

    Very stylish but so impractical for anyone suffering MCI and worse.

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