Making a new community centre accessible to anyone and everyone

Community centres are important hubs across the country that give people an opportunity to socialise, learn and access key services. They serve a vital function in communities across the country that offer different things for different people, and with the right facilities can be accessible to everyone.

Changes to building regulations that came into effect June 2022 stipulated that Changing Places toilets must be provided in new public buildings, therefore provision must be made for Changing Places toilets in certain buildings commonly used by the public.

The recently built Sovereign Harbour Community Centre is a purpose-built facility, providing multiple rooms for hire for meetings, conferences, social events, and weekly clubs. The multi-functional space was created specifically for the local community in Eastbourne, and therefore the building offers plenty of modern and light spaces with lots of flexibility.

Making the community centre accessible to all

The building had an accessible toilet in place, but the council proposed to install a Changing Places room to truly make it a centre everyone could access and use. It was the responsibility of Care Spaces at Wealden Rehab to make this happen by repurposing the space in the accessible toilet.

The challenges our team faced

The main challenge our team was faced with was putting together a design to change the existing room into a Changing Places and also have a separate w/c. Our designs were successfully approved allowing phase 1 of the installation to begin. This stage involved sectioning off part of the existing toilet for the new w/c to go and creating a new door through to the main foyer area.

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Creating the Changing Places facility

The second phase of the project focused on converting the remaining space into a modern, spacious, and light Changing Places toilet. We started by removing the existing facilities and internal structures and widened the doorway to comply with regulations. We also had to strengthen the walls by installing hygienic cladding. Once complete, we then installed the following into the room:

  • A flush shower tray
  • A non-slip floor
  • A height adjustable wash basin with a thermostatic tap
  • A ceiling track hoist on a XY track system
  • A height adjustable mobile shower trolley
  • A comfort height toilet
  • Fixed support rails either side of the toilet
  • A privacy screen
  • Accessories including a mirror, waste bins and paper roll dispenser

Another great success

After five weeks of construction, Care Spaces handed over the new Changing Places and separate w/c which were met with some great positive responses. Not only did we manage the consultation, design, installation, and registration of the project, but we also ensured the centre could still be safely used by the community during the installation period. Being a part of this project has been amazing but what truly motivated us was knowing how many people with various disabilities could now use and enjoy this lovely community centre.