Changing Places design

When undertaking a specialised project such as delivering a Changing Places, it’s not inconceivable that you’ll hit bumps in the road. Whilst the scope of a Changing Places toilet facility is closely defined, the coordination of design to achieve compliance needs very careful attention.

With over 200 Changing Places projects successfully delivered, Care Spaces is accustomed to the design challenges that these specialist builds can encounter. In this blog, we share some of the main difficulties that can arise.

Working with room specifications

One of the biggest challenges we see in a Changing Places design is the size and shape of the room. To be registered as a compliant facility, the room needs to be a minimum of 12m2. However, with modern building methods, its not uncommon to find that the space has been designed as an L-shape, or with at least one wall with a curve. Whilst the physical floorspace in these rooms is calculated as 12m2, shapes that aren’t regular can conceal the fact that the actual usable space is less than 12m2.  By working with the client and The Changing Places Consortium directly, we find a resolution can normally be reached.

A further design challenge is the height of the ceiling. It is perhaps a signal that architects are reading the British Standard and guidance notes, as rooms are often drawn with a specific ceiling height of 2400mm. However, given that one of the key pieces of equipment is a ceiling-mounted hoist, it is good practice to aim for a higher ceiling when possible, not only does this decision make for a lighter and more spacious room-feel, it enables your hoist system to lift higher. Given that the room is designed for users up to 200kg, every inch the hoist can lift is a benefit to the users. A ceiling height of 2500-2600mm is preferable.


lifting heights long width


Discover more on Changing Places room planning

Hoist tracking

In addition, the patient hoist will need to be designed with a room-covering track system, this can be a challenge to make this work effectively in odd shaped spaces.

The main task in overcoming this challenge is to ensure that the hoist and bench are covered by the hoist system. If one piece of equipment can be located outside of the hoist range, it’s the basin – generally, if the basin is located at the correct distance from the nearest wall, with sufficient space in front to manoeuvre, then this would be acceptable.


curved wall plan 1

If in any doubt, you can send your proposed Changing Places layout to our design team for validation.

Changing Places specialist equipment

The siting of equipment within the room is very important. Very often we have plans submitted for quotation, where its clear that whilst the guidance documentation has been followed closely, an understanding of how the equipment works in real life is lacking, and as a result the design falls short of excellence. We must remember that once this space is delivered, it needs to be used by persons that not only have a great deal of experience in using equipment, but will not navigate through the space in the same way as an able-bodied user might do. Experience doesn’t necessarily beat logic hands-down but it certainly adds some essential context.

Check out our blog from our Changing Places project planning series on the Changing Places equipment required.

Changing Places toilets are designed differently

A Changing Places toilet is designed differently to an accessible WC, and the two facilities should not be merged. It’s not uncommon to find a proposed layout which includes an architect’s standard plan ‘Doc M’ toilet pack to be included, and set out as an accessible WC. In a Changing Places toilet, the WC pan should be 1000mm minimum from the nearest wall as opposed to just 500mm in an accessible toilet. This extra space allows for assistants to access both sides of the WC for care. The toilet should further have a folding support rail and a fixed vertical grab rail on both sides of the pan.


DisabledvCP toilet plan


For further insight on this topic, we’ve written a blog entitled Standard wheelchair accessible toilets vs Changing Places toilets.

So many of the design missteps we see are likely as a result of time pressure or a lapse in attention. With a little helping hand early in the process, you can confidently hand over a facility which is not only compliant, but one that will get rave reviews!


If you can’t find a way to deliver a Changing Places toilet inside your current building, you might consider a Care Capsule.  These modular-built units are constructed off-site,  and bring a great solution to venues with restricted internal space.

Discover the benefits of a modular Changing Places.


This blog was written by Ben Campbell. If you have comments or observations on design, particularly if you are a user, then please get in touch –  I really enjoy having discussions about layout and product features which make your life easier.