Growing awareness surrounding adult change facilities over the last few years has thankfully resulted in some progress being made regarding these types of facilities.
Adult change facilities are facilities which are provided separate and in addition to the regulated accessible sanitary facility. They generally include items such as an adult sized change table, ceiling track and hoist, ‘peninsula pan’ and increased circulation. The additional inclusions are intended to extend sanitary facility availability to a broader group of users, many of whom would not be able to use a standard accessible sanitary facility. It is expected that the provision of these facilities will enable more people with a disability to better participate in the general community.
Two new guidelines relevant to this type of facility have been recently published, meaning it's a good time to review current regulations.
The Changing Places campaign has amended their technical standard and launched a new accreditation process of facilities constructed in accordance with their standard. The local campaign was inspired by a UK campaign by the same name launched in 2006. The UK equivalent boasts over 970 facilities located across the UK. British Standard 8300:2009 was later published to provide guidance for good practice in the design of new buildings and meeting the needs of people with disabilities.
The British Standard recommends that a Changing Places facilities should be provided in larger building and complexes such as transport termini or interchanges, sport and leisure facilities, cultural centres, shopping centres, etc.
Locally, the new technical guideline suggests that 20 accredited changing places facilities are operational across Australia in locations such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Zoo, and St Kilda Lifesaving Club.
The Changing Places campaign has a logo which is incorporated into the tactile and Braille signage identifying such facilities. For a facility to include the Changing Places logo, it must be built in accordance with one of the three designs detailed in the accompanying Technical Standard. The facility must also undergo assessment by a recognised assessor. Facilities that do not completely align with the technical guideline may still be recognised as an adult change facility and also be included in the ‘facilities locator’ made available on Changing Places.
While the Changing Places campaign has gained some ground in Victoria and Western Australia, the New South Wales government has initiated its own campaign to encourage the development of similar facilities. They refer to these types of facilities as ‘Lift & Change’ facilities.
The NSW government describes their campaign as a trial, and they are working with local governments to identify sites which can have Lift & Change facilities installed. They have provided a co-contribution to a number of facilities completed at locations such as the South Grafton Lifestyle Centre, Macquarie Fields Leisure Centre and Echo Point Visitor Centre.
The initiative has partnered with the National Public Toilet Map to inform people with disabilities of their availability.
A checklist for NSW Lift & Change Facilities has also been published to guide their design and development. The checklist sites the requirements of Australian Standard 1428.1:2009 Design for Access and Mobility – General requirements for access – New building work, as well as the Changing Places Technical Standard. While similar in intent, Changing Places (CP) accreditation is optional and there are some deviations in the guidance provided. Some of these include:
The overall size of the facility
- ceiling height of 2,400 millimetres (2,100 millimetres for CP facility)
- a sliding door with a 900-millimetre clear opening width (1,000 millimetres for CP facility)
- each have their respective signage and accompanying pictogram
- 400 to 450 millimetres clearance at one or both ends of the change table for carer movement
- privacy screens are optional with a recommended 200-millimetre max gap at its base
- encouragement to provide usage counter and a children’s WC pan.
While the two initiatives are very similar, there are differences between them. An ongoing frustration in this sector is the uncertainty created often because of multiple conflicting guidelines and funding requirements - an obvious one being that of adaptable housing, Livable Housing Australia Guidelines and the more recent NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation categorisation criteria. These are all exceptional initiatives, but together they create a confusing array of guidelines and requirements for many designers, builders and building managers.