THE Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) has become the first public hospital in Australia to unveil its fully accredited Changing Places bathroom facility for people with disability.

Dental Health Services CEO, Dr Deborah Cole, said the facility, now double from its original size, was not only a win for patients of the hospital but for the wider Melbourne population.

“It will be open to the general public which means all carers of disabled people will have access to state of the art facilities,” she said.

“The initiative is the result of working together with the Cummins family who have a son that is severely intellectually and physically disabled and is a patient of ours. The project demonstrates our commitment to patient centred care and our dedication to listening to what is important to our patients and their families. “

Accredited Changing Places toilets feature height-adjustable change tables, tracking hoist systems, shower, sufficient circulation space and a centrally placed toilet with room at either end for carers.

Gail and David Cummins wrote a letter to Dr Cole requesting an upgrade to facilities last year following a visit to RDHM where Michael was a patient.

“It was important to us to have respectful facilities where he can be changed after needing a bathroom,” Gail said.

“The result following our correspondence was beyond what we expected and today marks an important day for people with disabilities, their carers and volunteers.”

Eddie Chapman, CEO for Association for Children with a Disability (ACD), which auspices Changing Places in Australia said he hoped it would set a precedent for other hospitals in Australia.

“We applaud Dental Health Services Victoria for taking this initiative to break down one of the fundamental barriers to participation for people with severe disabilities. RDHM has ensured that people with high care needs will not only be able to access the dental care they need, but also enjoy a meal on Lygon Street or a class at the University of Melbourne without needing to return home early to use the bathroom.”