Friday 30 November 2018

Making the community more accessible for people living with disability


For those people within our community living with disability who require assistance with their personal hygiene needs, a trip out in public can be a nightmare. Up until recently, adequate facilities have not been available for people with these needs, meaning some completely avoid the difficult task of getting around for prolonged periods in public. This withdrawal from the community can then lead to isolation and mental health issues.


This concern is now a thing of the past for residents and visitors to our area who have a disability, as Bass Coast Shire is lucky enough to have a facility purpose-designed to meet the needs of people with high support needs located at Bass Coast Health’s (BCH) Phillip Island Health Hub in Cowes.


Incorporated into the design of the building that was officially opened in April this year, the Changing Place bathroom has many benefits. It increases the participation of people with a disability, their families and carers in the social, cultural, recreational and sporting life of the community. It also improves the accessibility of our built and natural environments to maximise participation and inclusion of more members of the community. Most importantly, it provides people with disability dignity while having their needs met and reduces the stress of their carers.


There are only 70 Changing Places available in Australia, including 26 in Victoria. The closest Changing Places to Bass Coast are located at Traralgon and Frankston.


The difference between Changing Place facilities and other adult changing facilities is that Changing Places are built according to universal guidelines and specifications outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services. These specifications ensure that each Changing Place has the features necessary to comfortably change an adult, including enough space for two carers.


Features include a height-adjustable change table, an electronic hoist with a safe working load of 180kg, a Peninsula toilet (which sticks out like a ‘peninsula’ at least a metre away from the walls on either side) and a shower.


Each Changing Place is checked and certified by DHHS consultants before being accredited. The Changing Places website has recently been updated to provide a list of Changing Places and an interactive map to make it easier to locate these facilities when travelling.


The Phillip Island Health Hub is located at 50 - 54 Church Street, Cowes and is open from Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm. For more information call 5956 2100 or go to Island Health Hub’s Changing Place at Cowes is designed for people with a disability to meet their needs with dignity.

Island Health Hub’s Changing Place at Cowes is designed for people with a disability to meet their needs with dignity.Pictured above: The Changing Place at Bass Coast Health's Phillip Island Health Hub’s in Cowes is designed for people with a disability to meet their needs with dignity.