If you have ever been given a tour around Ruby’s Fund Sensory Centre by me, you will have been taken to the toilets! You see I am very proud of our toilets, especially the ‘disabled’ toilet. Before the centre became a reality I had an obsession if we were planning a trip out with Ruby. I had to plan where the toilets where and how we would manage changing her. On previous trips out, due to the call of nature, we had found Ruby and myself in the most undignified positions. Believe me kneeling on the floor of a public toilet is not an experience I recommend for yourself or your most precious little one. This had a major impact on us going out as a family unit. We simply didn’t if there wasn’t a suitable toilet changing area.
Now I knew that we were not unique in our experiences. After all how many other wheelchair users are there? I then thought about it and actually I don’t see many wheelchair users out and about in our town and wondered if the toilet situation was also a concern for other families.
When the time came for us to plan and design the toilets at Ruby’s Fund I knew what I, as the mum of a disabled little girl would like to see in a toilet changing area. First of all it needed to have space. Space for the door to open so a wheelchair user and possibly their helper, a mobile hoist and a changing table can all comfortably fit and move around the room. I have not forgotten the toilet, the washbasin or bins, they are in there too! Then it has to be clean! Not as in aseptic as a hospital theatre but simply white walls, ceramics and tiles with vinyl flooring which are cleaned and mopped daily with beautiful smelling products. The hand towels and toilet roll needed to of a good quality and well stocked too. Hand driers would not be included. I had too frequently observed the distress the noise of the driers caused on little people with sensory overloading issues.
With this in mind I spent time with the architect and builder looking at configurations of the layout. In fact we took a whole week on it in the middle of winter in the building with no heating! I believe it has been worth it. We now have a spacious changing area toilet. Which accommodates a mobile hoist and changing table. When families and groups with children or young people visit the centre they often comment about how wonderful the toilet is, spacious and clean, with the bonus of a changing bed and hoist.
I now know that our experiences kneeling in dirty public conveniences were not in vain. It had focused me on what facilities should be available to our centre users. I believe to maintain a person’s privacy and dignity is essential whatever their age or ability and if the lack of a suitable toilet provision is stopping them going out then that is unacceptable. Hopefully the toilets at Ruby’s Fund mean we can be a place to visit for those who worried, as I did that we couldn’t go out in case of the call of nature struck Ruby and we were in a mess with no where suitable to freshen her up. So if you know somebody who worries about this maybe mention my blog and say it maybe worth a visit to Ruby’s Fund!