A new state-of-the-art changing facility for people with severe mobility disabilities opened in Ebrington Square, Londonderry, on Monday.
The bathroom facility was developed and funded fully by social care agency, Glen Caring, and is the first one in the western region.
It is expected to be a major advantage for local people with disabilities and a boost to accessible tourism for the region.
“From our own experience of taking clients on respite care daytrips, standard disabled toilets are simply not enough for those with severe mobility issues,” said Glen Caring general manager Linda Beckett.
“This new facility enables them and their carers to enjoy trips to and days out in Londonderry and the surrounding areas, with the security of knowing that their needs can be met with dignity.”
Local man, Jonathan Hagon who cut the ribbon for the official opening - says the new changing facility is “exactly what the city needs.
He commented: “It is so handy for both people in town and people in the Waterside, going to the arena or St Columb’s Park.
“It means someone who normally couldn’t go on an outing with their friends and family can now do so. Having the use of the hoist and changing bed is brilliant - this make life easier for so many people.”
“We have been in the situation in the past where, my mum and her friend have had to lay my friend on cold tiles on the floor of a toilet to be changed, which was awful for my friend.
“I can’t wait to tell them about the new Glen Caring facility on the square.”
The event was also addressed by Mayor Maolíosa McHugh, who said: “This opening is an important step in making our city more inclusive and accessible, and should be recognised and welcomed as such.”
Martin Graham, Tourism NI Regional Manager added: “The implementation of this facility will help ensure that all visitors can travel to the area with ease and comfort.”
Orla McCann, an assistant director at Disability Action NI, says better access is not just the right thing to do for individuals with disability, it’s also the right direction for tourism. Speaking at the official opening event, she said there are “an estimated 11 million people in the UK with some form of disability – a demographic that’s been overlooked for far too long. In economic terms, this demographic is worth a potential £2 billion-a-year to the UK tourism market. By taking an inclusive approach to future tourism development, Northern Ireland could take its share of this market.”
The equipment available at the Ebrington Changing Places facility includes:
A height adjustable adult sized changing bench
A tracking Hoist system
Adequate space in changing area for up to two people
A centrally placed Aqua 800 washing, drier toilet with adequate room either side
A curtain to allow privacy
Shower with floor drainage.
Check out the Changing Places facility in Ebrington Square here and find out more about the Changing Places organisation and campaign here. If you need further information about the new Ebrington Square facility, please email Glen Caring on firstname.lastname@example.org