Tesco installs more Changing Places facilities to help disabled shoppers

Tesco has installed 35 Changing Places facilities in its stores across the UK to help those with complex disabilities use toilets safely and comfortably.

A Changing Places toilet is a fully accessible toilet with additional specialist equipment of a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench, an overhead track or mobile hoist, a peninsular toilet, a privacy screen and enough space for up to two carers as detailed in British Standard BS8300: 2009. These toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets.

The rollout of new facilities comes after Tesco invited Changing Places campaigner Kerry Thompson to its Milton Keynes Kingston Extra store, to speak to colleagues and explain why these facilities are so important.

She said: “The biggest challenge I face when going anywhere is when it comes to using disabled toilets. I find some are simply too small to fit me, my wheelchair and hubby – it can sometimes feel very claustrophobic.

“Having to plan where to go for a meal or do my shopping based on whether the disabled toilets are suitable makes things difficult. I have to limit what I drink just in case the disabled toilet isn’t big enough or has not got the right equipment to help me. Other times I find myself limiting my time out because you just can’t risk the embarrassment of having an accident. I shouldn’t have to worry about the most basic thing we all need to do.

“It was great to get the opportunity to speak to Tesco and tell them why these facilities are so important. I think being in the same room and telling them face to face really helped, and I’m so pleased they’re installing more toilets, I know it will make a trip to the supermarket a little bit easier for people like me.”

Tesco chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini commented: “We were keen to meet with Kerry and when we heard her story, we wanted to help. It’s clear how important Changing Places toilets are to our customers who need them, so we’re pleased to have installed these 35 new facilities. We treat each store on a case by case basis and wherever possible, we will try and accommodate them and help customers such as Kerry.”

The 35 new toilets are in addition to four existing facilities in the Milton Keynes Kingston Extra, Calne Superstore, Slough Extra and Stourbridge Extra stores.

The full list of Tesco stores which include Changing Places facilities (correct as of April 2019) is: Tidworth Superstore, Shepton Mallet Superstore, Aylesbury Tring Rd Superstore, Faversham Superstore, Fareham Superstore, Ryde Extra, Bishop Auckland Extra, Clevedon Superstore, Annan Superstore, Hexham Extra, Lunsford Park Extra, Banbury Extra, Lockerbie Superstore, Holyhead Extra, Sudbury Superstore, Pembroke Dock Superstore, Maesteg Superstore, Amersham Superstore, Tiverton Blundells Superstore, Hattersley Extra, Oxford Superstore, Stoke-on-Trent Kidsgrove Superstore, Callington Superstore, Bideford Superstore, Ystradgynlais Superstore, Ammanford Superstore, Cambridge Bar Hill Extra, Diss Superstore, Hengoed Ystrad Mynach Superstore, Llandrindod Wells Superstore, Thornbury Superstore, Ivybridge Lee Mill Extra, Carrickfergus Castle Extra, New Milton Superstore, Workington Superstore, Milton Keynes Kingston Extra, Calne Superstore, Slough Extra and Stourbridge Extra.

Rob Burley, director of campaigns, care and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said: “Having access to Changing Places toilets gives disabled people greater independence, and we are delighted that Tesco has committed to installing more than 30 facilities in the UK this year. Having the support of such a high-profile retailer is an encouraging step forward in our campaign, and we hope other retailers and venues will follow suit.

“Like everyone else, disabled people go shopping, travel to work and meet their friends. But a lack of Changing Places toilets can leave them isolated. By building more Changing Places toilets, we can help to tackle the exclusion they face.”

The Changing Places Consortium comprises Muscular Dystrophy UK, PAMIS, Centre for Accessible Environments, the Scottish Government and founding member and advisor/campaigner Martin Jackaman.

The Changing Places campaign supports the rights of people with severe and multiple learning disabilities, and/or other physical disabilities, to access their communities. Without Changing Places toilets, carers are forced to change their loved ones on toilet floors, or have to stay at home.

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