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Hospital disability facilities improved thanks to charity funding

Patients and visitors with a disability or mobility problems are to benefit from newly opened facilities at County Hospital.

UHNM Charity has funded a newly refurbished ‘changing place’ toilet at the hospital in Stafford.

The large space is equipped with changing benches and hoists and will provide a dignified and secure area for people and their carers to use.

The newly opened toilet facilities will be of use to thousands of people each year including Sophie Siddall who volunteers in County’s outpatient department and was part of the design and planning process.

Sophie said: “As a wheelchair user one of the biggest challenges I face is having to check places before I leave home to make sure there is an accessible toilet. Having access to a toilet sounds a basic need that so many people take for granted, but for people with a disability or mobility problems going somewhere with the proper facilities makes a huge difference.

“Many disabled toilets are not properly equipped or are too small for wheelchair users like myself who need help from carers or require the use of equipment like hoists. Patients with learning disabilities also find smaller, more busy and overcrowded toilets overwhelming.

“This new changing place, with more space to manoeuvre and a range of essential equipment will make a big difference not only to myself, but thousands of other patients, visitors and carers who no longer have to worry if the hospital has a suitable toilet.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you on behalf of the local disabled community to UHNM Charity and everybody involved in providing this new changing place.”

The new facilities also include features such as bins fitted with sensors that automatically open and more accessible shelves and mirrors.

Jenny Clarke, matron for estates and facilities at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust said: “Disabilities can severely limit mobility and make it very difficult for people to use standard accessible toilets. People may be limited in their own mobility and need equipment to help them or they may need support from carers to aid them with their toileting needs. Standard accessible toilets, commonly known as ’disabled toilets’, do not provide all of the equipment needed and most are too small to accommodate more than one person.

“We hope that the availability of this facility will add to the comfort of patients and their carers when they come to the hospital.”

The facility is located on the ground floor between the main entrance to the outpatient department and the passenger lifts.

The toilet is available to anyone who needs it. A RADAR key is needed to gain access and can be collected from the hospital’s main reception during normal office hours or the switchboard room out-of-hours.

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