Changing Places bathrooms
Changing Places bathrooms are bathrooms that are designed to cater for users with profound disabilities. Having this type of bathroom in major public places would be of benefit not just to the individual, but also to their families and associates. Such places could be places that everyone else would take for granted: a day to the beach; watching a live game of football.
Originating in the UK, and introduced on a voluntary basis in Australia since 2014, the uptake of Changing Places bathrooms in the state of Victoria in particular has been impressive.
From voluntary to code
The draft text of the 2019 issue of the National Construction Code proposes the insertion of a suite of new requirements for the provision of Changing-Places-style bathrooms in Australia.
The proposed changes signal an intention to shift from the current, purely voluntary regime to a code-mandated requirement.
The bathrooms will incorporate features to cater for users that require carers. The prescribed components for these bathrooms include a wall-mounted change table, a ceiling-mounted hoist, and larger circulation areas.
The design features will be very different to those for standard AS1428.1 accessible bathrooms, which presume independent access.
Affected building types
The text of the draft NCC requires a the provision of Changing-Places-style bathroom in buildings of a class 6 building classification that have a design occupancy of greater than 1400, as well as within class 9b assembly buildings.
The class 9b classification covers a wide variety of uses and typologies – including libraries, places of worship, education buildings, stadia, and public transport buildings. The current wording of the draft NCC text presumably means that the requirement will apply to new works for class 9b buildings irrespective of the scale of those buildings.
Whether the requirements for Changing Places toilets will be adopted into the final text NCC 2019 remains to be seen.
Even if the changes aren’t adopted into the code, there would be value in providing such facilities in public places.