People with high support needs will experience less anxiety when visiting Nepean Hospital thanks to a new Changing Places toilet facility which is set to be built in the hospital’s new front of house area as part of Stage 2 of the Nepean Redevelopment.
Consumer, Kevin Finlayson
A Changing Places toilet facility provides a clean, safe and private place that is large enough for a person with high support needs to go to the bathroom with the assistance of their carer.
The purpose-built space, which was informed by feedback from people with lived experience, will feature a height-adjustable adult-sized change table, a hoist, a centrally-located peninsula toilet, additional circulation space, an automatic door and a privacy screen.
Former president of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, Penrith resident and passionate disability advocate, Kevin Finlayson, says having a Changing Places facility at Nepean Hospital is a win for the whole community.
“Having an all-abilities toilet will significantly improve the experience of visiting Nepean Hospital, not only for people with high-support needs, but for their carers and their families, as well as members of the general public,” says Kevin.
“Imagine visiting a hospital, which can sometimes already be a stressful experience for patients, and knowing there are no toilet facilities for you there. Patients can become very anxious and nervous, making for a very uncomfortable experience.
“A Changing Places facility changes all that. It’s one less thing people with high-support needs and their carers need to worry about when visiting the hospital.”
“And it’s not only these people who benefit – our elderly community members who need assistance can also use the facility. People who have been in serious accidents and find themselves immobile can also use the facility. It means people can retain their dignity and feel more relaxed coming into the hospital.”
A fully featured facility
Kevin, who has also been a member of the Penrith Council Access Committee and is currently a member of the Nepean Redevelopment’s Consumer Committee, began advocating for an all-abilities toilet facility at Nepean Hospital several years ago.
“I was a volunteer at the hospital at the time, and I saw a lot of carers bringing in clients with high-support needs, and it occurred to me – what happens when these people want to go to the toilet?” he said.
“These people would have to wait until they got home, and these people could be at the hospital for up to five or six hours, not including the travel time as well.
“I don’t think many in the community realised the challenges these people face, but I noticed because I am also a person with a disability.”
When funding for the Nepean Redevelopment was announced in 2016, Kevin saw his opportunity.
“I joined the Nepean Redevelopment Consumer Committee and have been advocating for an all-abilities toilet since then,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how much seeing an all-abilities toilet at Nepean Hospital means to me on a personal level. It means so much because we are helping members of our community – this will literally change their lives when they come to the hospital.”
“And this affects all of us. You and I might be able to go to the toilet ourselves now, but you never know what’s around the corner. I might need a Changing Places facility one day. We have to have these facilities for everybody in the community.”
Kevin adds there is an important awareness and education piece to the Changing Places facility.
“I think Nepean Hospital has a wonderful opportunity on its hands to educate the public on what these facilities can do and why they are so important,” he said. “This facility will change lives. Let’s keep the conversation going around why they are needed in more hospitals and see more hospitals around the state follow suit.”
Construction for Stage 2 of the Nepean Redevelopment is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in 2026.
For more information about Changing Places, visit: https://changingplaces.org.au/