Installing a Universal Changing Station
In Your Business or Community
What You Need To Know
To be sure the changing table you install is accessible to anyone, regardless of their height, weight, or level of mobility, look for these features:
At least 70 inches long X 30 inches wide
Has a side rail that locks in place for safety
Placed in a location with privacy
Clear signage placed at the entrance to the building for way-finding
More features to consider:
A hoist. This will assist individuals who are unable to move themselves from their wheelchair onto the universal changing table and/or the commode.
A personal shower head for cleaning up
Where should I install the table?
Family/Companion Care Restroom
The best location is inside a a single-use restroom, sometimes called a companion care, assisted care, or family bathroom. This allows caregivers to assist their loved one inside the bathroom, even if they are not the same gender. In brand new buildings, be sure to consult with your architect to build in room in the family restroom for the changing table.
Men's or Women's Restroom
If there is no family restroom available, the changing table can be placed in either the men's or women's room, as long as privacy is provided, such as installing a lock on the main door to the bathroom, so it can be locked while the changing table is in use. In this case additional signage should be installed that signifies that persons of the opposite gender are allowed to enter the restroom to assist the disabled individual.
Will My Business Benefit?
Short answer: YES. You will see your customer base broaden to include a section of our population that often is forgotten: individuals with medical needs and disabilities. Installing a universal changing table will show that you are committed to inclusion and welcoming everyone in to your business, regardless of their medical conditions. The doors will be open to the individual as well and their family and friends to become new patrons to your business.
Photos courtesy of Perth International Airport, Cincinnati International Aiport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Consider The Layout
When planning the ideal place to install the universal changing table, make sure you have the following elements:
Enough space for a wheelchair to turn around, and space for a caregiver
A sink, toilet, waste receptacle, and wall hook
Optional cieling track hoist or mobile hoist to help with transfers
More Sample Layouts
Incorporating a lift system into your accessible and inclusive restroom will allow safe transfers for individuals who are unable to move themselves from their mobility device onto the changing table or commode. Individuals cannot always rely on their caregivers to lift them from their wheelchair. Solo-lifting an adult is inadvisable as it is unsafe for the individual and their caregiver. Providing a lift will provide a safe way to transfer and will cut down on falls and injuries caused by lifting too much weight.
Photos provided by SureHands Lift Systems
Ceiling track systems are easy to use and save space inside the room.
Freestanding lifts are another option if the cieling track is not feasible for your room.
Cieling track lift
Cieling track lift
Freestanding mobile lift
Avoid These Pitfalls
Signage is often overlooked but its an essential element! Without signage, people will not be able to locate the changing table. Make sure you have signage in the following places:
At Building Entrance and at Map Kiosks
At the Restroom Door
Changing Table Operational Instructions
Display Location(s) On Your Building/ Campus/Park Map
Display Location(s) On Your Website With Photos
Upon first learning about this important equipment, one concern that usually springs to mind is the potential for vandalism. While most places that have already installed a universal changing table have not experienced vandalism, you can consider the following ideas. Keep in mind that according to the building code, family restroom doors must be kept unlocked when not in use and be accessible to the public.
Key Code to Unlock the Changing Table Controls
At MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, the controls for the adult changing table are kept inside a locked box. There is a keypad located next to the box. Visitors can unlock the controls with the code.
Key Code to Enter the Room
IF the adult changing station is located in a separate room other than the family bathroom, such as a special companion care restroom, consider this idea. At Houston Hobby airport, the phone number to airport customer service is located outside the room. The door is kept locked. The door is equipped with a keypad on the door handle. When visitors call the phone number, they will be given the code to unlock the door. The code is changed periodically.
Note: Individuals who need this equipment already face many barriers, and a locked door is another barrier to an easy and independent experience. Please only put this barrier in place if there are legitimate security concerns for the room and/or equipment and you can ensure a staff member will always be available to immediately give access to this room during all hours your facility is open.
Mobile Changing Stations
For outdoor festivals, fairs, and community events, a mobile changing station is the perfect solution. Participants who cannot use a portable toilet due to their disabilities will be relieved to see an accessible place to address their restroom needs.
An Innovative Solution Created by Momentum Innovative Disability Services