People with learning or physical disabilities often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use toilets safely and comfortably. Our Additional Needs Support Coordinator, Nicola Watson-Bird, shares about Changing Places toilets and RADAR Keys.

The charity Tearfund tell us that almost one in three people living in the world don’t have a safe place to go to the toilet.

Not only does this make daily life unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it presents a huge risk. It’s incredible to think that more people have mobile phones than access to a toilet!

But this is not just a problem in the developing world. According to the most recent research available there are 16 million disabled people in the UK1 but only 1838 specially adapted Changing Places toilets.

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities or with physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use toilets safely and comfortably. These needs are met by Changing Places toilets. Changing Places toilets enable anyone, regardless of their disability, to go to the shops, attend hospital appointments, enjoy community life, socialise and travel. All the things that most of us take for granted every day. Changing Places toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets. If you would like to find out more, visit their website.

Many standard accessible toilets remain locked to prevent vandalism and misuse and can only be accessed by those who have a RADAR Key (sometimes called an NKS key). Toilets fitted with National Key Scheme (NKS) locks can be found in shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, bus and train stations and many other locations in most parts of the country.

The RADAR Key is a large, chunky key. The large turning head and chunky ring are designed to be easier for people with physical impairments to manage.

Although standard accessible toilets do have locks on the inside as well, it is recommended that you knock before using the key in case someone is already inside. Save yourself and others any embarrassment by checking first.

If you need a RADAR Key you can purchase one for around £5. Here is a link to order one from Disability Rights UK.

RADAR Keys are available from other disability organisations and if you are a member of a specific disability charity you may be given one for free.

Finally, and rather surprisingly, I found the Great British Public Toilet Map – which enables you to find the nearest toilet to you.

1Family Resources Survey 2021–2022

Share on social media

Help us support families today

At Care for the Family we support couples, parents and those who have been bereaved. If you would be able to make a one off donation to support our work, we would be very grateful. Thank you.

We'd love to stay in touch!

Sign up to receive regular updates full of practical articles, top tips, and encouragement, plus hear about our work and events near you.

Skip to content Skip to content