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Security and access

18th Aug 2021

All organisations planning to create a Changing Places toilet should first read our legal factsheet for advice.

It is up to each venue how they manage access to their Changing Places toilet.
In all cases a full risk assessment of the Changing Places toilet should be undertaken to include the surrounding area of the toilet so ask the following questions:

Is the location isolated?

Is the Changing Places toilet venue fully accessible by wheelchair?

What staff support is available to allow access and maintenance of the toilet?

This will inform decisions regarding access, security and good signage.

Open Access - Some venues prefer to keep the Changing Places toilet unlocked.
(e.g. Nottingham Contemporary Arts Centre, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (radar key needed to access hoist), Great Ormond Street Hospital)

Key Schemes -

a) Uncontrolled access by key
A number of venues prefer a key scheme such as the RADAR National Key Scheme (NKS).

(e.g. Westfield Shopping Centre, Derby, Victoria Embankment London public toilets, Windmill Gardens Broughty Ferry Beach Dundee).These allow open access at any time to everyone who has a Radar key.

b) Controlled access by the venues own key, access fob or coded lock
Some venues (preferring to have more control locally and limiting access to those disabled people and their carers really needing the specific facilities in a Changing Places toilet) may keep it locked. The toilet can then be accessed by one of the following:

asking visitors to go to a nearby reception/ information point who will then open the facility by,

loaning a key,

giving a code number,

accessing via the toilet attendant,

(e.g. Tate Modern, IKEA Edinburgh, Ninewells Hospital Dundee. James Cook Hospital Middlesbrough)

 c) Membership schemes - registering the carer not the disabled person. The reason for this is each carer will have to indicate they understand how to use the equipment.

Membership schemes include:

1) Membership Card System Some venues operate a membership card scheme that the venue or local authority has set up themselves where each carer completes a registration form prior to first using the Changing Places toilet. They are then given a membership card which they show the attendant or at the information point on future visits. They then gain access via a member of staff or loan of a key. Most venues are happy for you to register on arrival via an attendant or information point (e.g. Nottingham City Centre, Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow) These may or may not require forms of ID  

2)  Membership schemes which offer carers their own Key/Access Fob for future independent use.
Some venues operate a membership scheme where the carer registers in advance (this may be on site or via a prior application process with the carers providing proof of identification). After completing a membership form they are given their own key or electronic access fob allowing independent access at all times. (Examples of Electronic access fobs can be found at Middlesbrough Bus Station and Eldon Square Shopping Centre Newcastle). These schemes may record access whenever the toilet is used and can be linked to control centres e.g. local shopmobility base for security/cleaning etc. Other venues such as Chalkwell Shelter, Southend on Sea carers apply to the Local Authority in advance with proof of ID and are sent their own key.
In the case of membership in advance venues should make arrangements to manage the situation should someone arrive needing to use the toilet in an emergency. Clear signage explaining how carers can gain emergency access should be on display.       
Benefits of a key/membership scheme:
• It is a way to counter vandalism and misuse
• It may  remove the need for an attendant which can reduce costs

If a  key/membership scheme has been set up then you can add in safeguards by asking people signing up to the scheme to self-declare competence to use the equipment

All Changing Places toilets should display clear signage indicating how access can be gained. It is also vital that information about access and the need for users to bring their own slings etc is put on relevant Council and venues websites, publicity leaflets and promotional material.

RADAR National Key Scheme (NKS)
• You should be able to obtain a RADAR NKS key by contacting an Access Officer at your local authority.

For those who are unable to obtain an NKS key in their own locality try Disability Rights UK or contact RADAR directly.