Look away now if you feel squeamish about talk of lavs, pants and pads and toilet issues in general.
My friend Mandy who has an undiagnosed neurological problem, said to me “I sometimes can’t do two things at the same time. Standing up from the loo and pulling up my pants was just too much today. I fell flat on my face — hence the new bruises!”
My friend Sue, wheelchair user, has to use incontinence pads at night when getting to the loo involves hoists and transfers to a special bathroom wheel chair. But the pads she could get free from NHS supplies are not comfortable or adequate. She has to buy her own. A large weekly expense.
Some disabled people have catheters into their bladder —you pee into a bag beside your bed. It’s convenient but leaves you prone to infection.
I’m not at that stage yet, but with my failing legs and painful back, going to the loo is now a much more difficult process. Social services have provided metal surrounds and raised toilet seats for my home. But going outside your house is a minefield.
I’ve just had to get my long suffering partner to carry one of my toilet frames to a friends house. Last time I used his loo I nearly fell over trying to hold onto his bath and a door handle —the door opened, I lurched into the cupboard etc etc. You get the picture….
Why aren’t all houses designed with potential disability in mind. Whose mad idea was it to put in low toilets in modern bathrooms with no grab rails around them? Most people are taller than me so have a long way to haul themselves up from a low seat.
But public loos are not ideal. They may have wheelchair on the door but it doesn’t mean all disabled people can use the space.
The disabled loo in Broadstairs harbour needs a “radar” key to get in —just in case you able hooligans go in and use it for antisocial behaviour I guess. It’s a kind of master key for most disabled public loos. Nothing electronic about it and anyone can buy one. But for me, even though I now have a radar key I bought on the internet, I would have to stand outside, reach for my key, put my sticks in one hand, or prop them up on the wall in order to use the key. Mandy might have fallen over by now.
You get inside and need to lock the door. Another balancing act. But oh joy, two bars on each side of the loo to grab and lift yourself up with. I wonder how others get on with washing their hands. For me it’s another balance problem with no stick to lean on and sometimes a distance to the hand dryer.
The other disabled loo at Broadstairs bandstand doesn’t need a key and is easy to get into on my scooter — which gives you a safe stable object to hang onto. Which you need because there’s a lack of grab rails and the hand dryer is the other side of the room from the sink. Take a clean hanky and give it a miss is my advice.
People using the dryer will inevitably drop water on the floor. A wet floor and sticks is not good! Which is why I like to take the scooter in with me. I can’t risk slipping. My bones are rebellious enough without shaking them up sliding on a wet floor.
What I’m talking about is often down to basic design. You won’t fall over if you have a grab rail in the right place. If you need pads and special pants let’s make sure the people who need them get the best available. As for public lavs, let’s make them accessible, clean, safe. Not locked! Why not?