21 Mar 2018

Toilet for people with profound disabilities opens in Hamilton

10:32 am on 21 March 2018

The first fully-accessible public toilet and bathroom facility in New Zealand designed for people with profound disabilities has opened in Hamilton.

Called Changing Places, it comes with an electronically adjustable toilet and hand basin, an electronic hoist and a changing table with a shower.

It is a bright space with colourful murals on the walls and roof.

Changing Places was first established in the United Kingdom in 2006.

Hamilton's Changing Places is at the Hamilton Gardens and is designed to cater for not only visitors to the gardens but also people and their carers who need this type of facility in the city.

Jenn Hooper from Changing Places NZ - whose 12-year-old daughter Charley is profoundly disabled - has been the driving force behind the project.

Ms Hopper said Charley was the motivating factor behind her push for Changing Places in this country.

"The world isn't set up for this level of disability."

She said caregivers often stayed at home rather than go out because there had not been a place to use for the disabled person.

Standard accessible toilets did not have the facilities needed for profoundly disabled people, Ms Hooper said.

"I believe they have not been built because people did not realise there was a need.

"Build it and they will come," she said.

The Hamilton City Council has built and will maintain Changing Places and a lot of the equipment inside has been donated.

"The council has been very accommodating."

Ms Hooper said she told Mayor Andrew King that councils were charged with providing public facilities for all of the community and not for almost all.

Only people who have registered as needing access to the facility can do so by either using a swipe device or through a mobile phone app.

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