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Toilet facilities

Some older people and people with certain health problems will find that they need to use the toilet more often than other people do. Going out can become a stressful experience because you are worried that you won't be able to find a loo.

And for people with mobility problems accessing a regular public toilet without suitable adaptations can be, at best, a struggle and, at worst, impossible.

A lot more work needs to be done to properly address this problem, but there are things you can do to ensure that you can go out and about with more confidence, find a toilet when you want one, and not have to worry about being taken short.

Maps like the Great British Public Toilet Map can help you to check in advance where the nearest public toilets are. The site will tell you how accessible the toilets are, and is particularly handy if you suffer from incontinence or digestive problems and are worried about needing to find a toilet urgently.

The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers disabled people independent access to locked public toilets around the country. Toilets fitted with National Key Scheme (NKS) locks can now be found in shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, bus and train stations and many other locations in most parts of the country. When you order a key you will also be able to order a list of toilets in your local area which are part of the scheme.

Changing Places Toilets enable anyone, regardless of their disability, to go to the shops, attend hospital appointments, enjoy community life, socialise and travel.

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 the toilets safely and comfortably.

You can find their locations on the Changing Places Toilets website.

The Transport for London website offers a map of toilet facilities on the tube network, including those which are adapted for people with disabilities.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes with more than a few seats are required by law to have toilets for their customers, and most are happy to let you use their toilet facilities providing you have bought food or drink from them. Some may let you use their toilets for free if you ask, or ask you to put a small donation in a charity tin. Don't be afraid to ask!

In some areas, businesses operate a Community Toilet Scheme. Under this scheme, shops and other businesses which have a toilet that's normally just for staff can agree to let members of the public use their facilities on request. They may display a sticker in the window which you can look out for.

Unfortunately the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster don't currently have a Community Toilet Scheme, but many other parts of London and the rest of the UK do, so it's worth checking if you're travelling.

Last updated: 21/05/2024