Happy (or should I say ‘crappy’) World Toilet Day!

How many times a day do you use the toilet?

I ask because I can’t always do this. The ability to use a toilet when they need is something most people take for granted, but something which poses a huge challenge for myself and thousands of other Australians.

Currently there are only a handful of facilities which cater to the needs of people with severe or profound disability who need the help of a support worker to go to the toilet.

The Changing Places project is vital because it means that I can use bathroom facilities outside of my home and keep my dignity.

The inability to use a standard public toilet has created uncomfortable days and nights and frustration for me and many other people with disabilities.

The inability to use a standard public toilet is a critical health issue for me and other people, causing broken skin, rashes and urinary tract infections due to a lack of equipment and an additional barrier to equal access to the community.

More new Changing Places facilities will also enable clients, staff & carers to be confident that they can follow the correct manual handling, workplace safety & OHS practices while attending to personal care in public places instead of the unsafe improvisation methods that were previously used.

I have sat in soiled clothing through concerts, a range of public events and had to leave work early. To name just a few instances where lack of toilet facilities has put a serious dampener on my life.

Changing Places allow me to go to the toilet in the community, a previously unmet need. Changing places means I can enjoy everyday activities like other people, such as going to the movies, out to lunch and shopping.

Now, thanks to the Changing Places facilities which are now open at the Zoo, Eastlands Shopping Centre, Ringwood Lakes and the MCG, I can leave home knowing that I can be comfortable and at less risk of infection. I can now enjoy a trip to the zoo to see new animals and a band at the twilight events this summer! And barrack for my football team in comfort at the MCG.

More Changing Places means increasing the boundaries experienced by people with severe physical disabilities and giving them a greater choice of places to go. This summer, I can choose to have a drink rather than ignoring my thirst until I reach home.

Changing Places means I can be participating in the community for 8 hours instead of the recommended 4 hours if I had to return home or cut my outing short to use the toilet.

In short, Changing Places means I am happier as I can use the toilet.

By Liz Ellis, Changing Places user