‘Urine-soaked’ floor campaigner wins new Changing Places disabled toilet site

Andrew Buck changing his son Alfie on the toilet floor
Andrew Buck changing his son Alfie on the toilet floor

A site has been identified for a new toilet specifically designed for the severely disabled in Horsham.

It comes after months of campaigning from a Horsham mother who for years has been forced to lay her child on a ‘urine-soaked’ floor to be changed.

Samantha Buck approached the County Times earlier this year to raise awareness of the Changing Places toilet - a room equipped with hoist, height adjustable bench and privacy screen.

At the time the mother, whose son Alfie suffers from cerebral palsy, said she was not the only family who strongly feel there should be at least one in Horsham town centre - as the nearest is currently at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.

She said: “It’s impossible to have a family day out.”

If Alfie needs the toilet, the family are forced to return home.

She continued:“If we get caught short we use a disabled toilet and lay him on a urine-soaked floor. It’s awful, but this is the reality of raising a severely disabled child.”

But this week, Horsham District Council (HDC) confirmed it has identified a site for a Changing Places toilet at the Pavilions in the Park Leisure Centre.

A spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “A local parent of a disabled child brought to HDC’s attention the national lack of specialist disabled toilet provision for severely disabled children and adults.

“A Changing Places facility allows people with significant physical disabilities to use a toilet, and to be washed and changed in private in a large room which has a hoist and a height adjustable changing bench.

“Whilst HDC already provides a Changing Places toilet at the council-owned Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre near Horsham, and facilities are in place that come close to this standard at other Horsham district leisure centres, we are very keen to help if we can and have been looking at both short and long term options for a changing places toilet in nearby Horsham town centre.”

The spokesperson continued: “Working with parents of disabled children to find a suitable location, we have identified a site in the council-owned Pavilions in the Park leisure centre in Horsham, which would be accessible to the public.

“A local company has offered to provide and install the specialist disability equipment.”

The council said its longer term aspirations are to have a Changing Places facility within Horsham town centre as well.