If you have not read the posting that talks about disabled access toilets in general please do so (below). This posting is written with a presumption that it follows on from the previous. Please note the general, obvious, and very sensible issue about child and vulnerable person safety note below *.
So now you have secured your disabled access toilet for differently abled people, and stopped using it as a general store. It is clean and tidy and you have provided adequate facilities inside, including hot and cold water, or have you? Have you thought about the needs of children with disabilities? Have you also thought of the needs of adults with learning disabilities that need to use disabled access toilets? Possibly not, but do not panic, this is not one of those moments when you have to dash back to the planning stage and start over, because when someone new comes to your place of worship with particular needs they will also come along with an expert; their parents or guardians or even carers#.
Do not think of this as a problem, an issue or even a nuisance, it isn’t; it is welcome, it is about being inclusive, it is what we do - we look after one of our own. It is the privilege of welcoming one of God’s own into our family.
So let us go back to the toilet question. Well in short you need to just allow the parent, guardian or carer’s room and space to bring with them whatever equipment they may need. This equipment may take up space and must be available during services should their child or adult with learning difficulties require the toilet. So this may be one of the few occasions where something may be kept in the disabled access toilet by the parent or guardian. Clearly if the equipment restricts room space a lot then alternative storage needs to be made very close to the disabled access toilet as the facility will still need to be available to other users.
Consideration should be made to the fact that a child or a person with learning disabilities requiring disabled access toilets may need to be changed, clothing wise, so the toilet area may need to be big enough to facilitate this. Of course this may create a dilemma as often disabled access toilets are not designed with changing larger children, or adults in mind. If it isn’t large enough then what other facility adjacent to the toilet can be offered? There may well be another room adjacent to the toilet that is private and clean where the parent, guardian or carer would feel comfortable. Asking the question early on when they start to attend the church helps. 1. It shows the church cares and wants to be pro-active in its relationship. 2. It gives the church a chance to rethink what can be done otherwise.
Dependent where the disabled access toilet is located it is possible to have curtain rails in the corridor outside creating a larger space, so when the toilet door is open no one can see in. The rail would need to be three sided protruding outwards to give the additional space, so this would not work in a corridor.
Alternatively a church may need to consider its main toilet facilities and how often they are used, would it be possible to create a second larger disabled access toilet inside the main toilets?
If you have no other space within the church, of church hall that would be appropriate then would an extension be answer. Toileting is a basic human need, if we cannot provide this then we are failing badly, and it would be sad to see the new family leave and shake our sand from their shoes.
* Now I am going to state that which should not need to be stated, but I am going to do it anyway. When it comes to toileting children or young people only their parents, guardians or carers can do this no one else from the church no matter your DBS standing. Never allow yourself, or someone from your church, to be put into a position by a parent or guardian whereby you are left with the child or young person even though you have the parents or guardians permission. It is not right, safe or appropriate. This will also apply to adults who are vulnerable and have carers, be they family or professional people.
#One word of clarification. When speaking about children and adults with learning disabilities in this post, I refer only to those who need to use disabled access toilets, and who may have continence problems. There is no intention here of inferring that children who are disabled, or adults with learning disabilities have continence as this is clearly not the case.