If you ask our surveyors where they spend most of their time, they’re bound to say accessible toilets. Surveyors collect 200 + pieces of information for each one they find. This includes everything from transfer side to colour contrast, door widths to emergency alarms.
You’ll find information to 10,000s of toilets on AccessAble, as well as Changing Places facilities.
In 2019, we met with Colostomy UK, a fantastic charity working to support and empower people living with a stoma (this is an opening on the abdomen that is connected to either the digestive or urinary system to allow urine or faeces to be diverted out of the body into a bag.)
Today, we’re partnering with Colostomy UK to support their Stoma Friendly Toilet campaign which helps 1 in 450 people in the UK living with a stoma to identify and access suitable toilet facilities.
People with a stoma have additional needs when using the toilet; even a day trip can be a potential source of anxiety. Because the condition is ‘invisible’, people living with a Stoma often face discrimination, being challenged or criticised for using accessible toilets. In Colostomy UK’s recent survey more than 30 per cent of respondents stated that they had experienced problems of this nature in shops, sporting venues and visitor attractions.
What is a Stoma Friendly Toilet?
It’s essential that a Stoma Friendly toilet has –
- Hook on door – To hang clothing, handbags and luggage while changing stoma bags. This provides more space in the cubicle.
- Shelf space – To enable ostomates (people living with a Stoma) to spread out their items easily and avoid having to use unsanitary surfaces.
- Mirror – To enable users to see their stoma while changing their appliances.
- Disposal bin in every cubicle – To avoid embarrassment for men and women having to dispose of their stoma bag in public view.
- Accessible toilet signage – To highlight the right of ostomates to use the toilet. Reduces risk of hostility for ostomates when using an accessible toilet.
From today, every toilet that we survey will be checked for stoma friendly facilities. If the toilet fits the criteria, we’ll apply our Stoma Friendly Toilet symbol. This will be shown on the Access Guide, and users of our website and App will be able to filter their searches to show which shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more have Stoma Friendly Toilets.
AccessAble is also aiming to raise awareness of what it means to be Stoma Friendly and support our partners to improve their facilities.
Speaking about the initiative Gregory Burke, Founder of AccessAble said:
“From the moment we met the team at Colostomy UK we could see how working together could make a really big difference to people living with a Stoma. We want to end toilet anxiety, to truly take the chance out of going out, so that no one faces uncertainty about using a toilet outside of their home. As part of this commitment we are really delighted to launch the Stoma Friendly Toilet symbol on to the AccessAble website and App. We also look forward to promoting the importance of Stoma Friendly Toilets and helping to increase the number available.”
As part of the launch Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust will become the first NHS Trust in England to work with AccessAble to look at its current toilet provision and see how facilities can be improved.
Speaking about the project Tracey Middleton, Director of Estates and Facilities, said:
“We are really thrilled to be working with AccessAble to create Detailed Access Guides for all our departments, wards and services. We recognise that coming to hospital can be a stressful experience and want to do all we can to give people comprehensive information to plan their visit and lower anxiety. At the same time, we are committed to improving our estate where we can and looking at our provision for visitors with a Stoma is an important part of this.”
Speaking about the Partnership Libby Herbert, General Manager at Colostomy UK said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with AccessAble to ensure that more toilets across the UK are Stoma Friendly. It has been great to work with and train the AccessAble team of surveyors on what makes a stoma friendly toilet. With AccessAble on board there is a huge opportunity to increase the number of stoma friendly toilets across the UK and raise awareness with organisations about the needs people living with a stoma have.”
Speaking about the importance of Stoma Friendly Toilets, Natalie Gardner, Crohn's and Ileostomy blogger at The Spoonie Mummy, said:
“The Stoma Friendly Toilet symbol is going to give so many ostomates the courage they need to get out and about following surgery. Knowing a place has the facilities they will need and being able to find this information via a quick app search is going to be a game changer!”
Speaking about the difficulties that inadequate toilets can cause, Blake Beckford said:
“Having accessible toilets is of upmost importance to every ostomate, having a stoma myself I know all too well the difficulties of inadequate toilets. When I first had my surgery and after my first bad experience in an unsuitable toilet it put me off going out, I would have to try and plan my route knowing the toilets that had a little more space to be able to change my stoma quickly should I need to. What AccessAble and Colostomy UK are doing will help every ostomate regain confidence when they go out, making us all feel we can live our lives to the full without the worry of inadequate toilets.”
To find out more about AccessAble’s work and the progress of the Stoma Friendly campaign, please visit our website or social media channels.
#KnowMoreGoMore #StomaFriendlyToilets #StomaAware