Shocked by lack of suitable facilities for disabled people
Every so often I am reminded that, whilst disability access and facilities are required by the Equalities Act, disabled people in need are being let down time and again and having to face decisions no able-bodied person would even consider.
I was reminded of this fact during our recent accessibility campaign when we found a motorbike in a disabled toilet and I am reminded again by this thought provoking and upsetting article.
For most of us on a night out, our main worry is which bar next? However, for those in wheelchairs or with other mobility restrictions, the main worry can be locating the nearest accessible toilet.
Reading about Marni Smyth’s experiences was heart-breaking. She was faced with a choice of making herself ill by not drinking whilst out and about due to a lack of suitable and accessible facilities or undergoing surgery for which there was no medical need.
Marni’s decision to choose surgery and have a catheter fitted has improved her quality of life as she is able to drink and stay hydrated without fear of being caught without access to a suitable toilet. But the fact that she had to make that choice is shocking.
A lack of suitable facilities is putting the UK’s disabled population at risk and, as we have seen, it is not necessarily because no disabled facilities exist, but because they are not maintained and are treated as an afterthought.
I was upset reading about Marni’s experiences because I had hoped that things were improving but this is yet another reminder of the need for increased education and thoughtful planning being needed to ensure those in our society with additional needs are treated with the same respect and dignity as everyone else.
Read more information about the Changing Places campaign which launched for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets such as those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.
Hannah Bottomley is a clinical negligence solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hannah or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.