Claire and David Galway, from Horndean, were left in a ‘tricky’ situation when their disabled son Elliot suffered an episode of incontinence during one of his regular visits to the Cosham hospital.
Elliot lives with a rare genetic condition called Phelan-McDermid syndrome and is also autistic, has ADHD and epilepsy. Due to his condition he is physically the size of an eight-year-old, despite being only five, and has the cognitive level of a nine-month-old.
During his appointment on February 3, David had to call Claire in from the car park where she was waiting so they could both clean and change Elliot. As there were no properly equipped changing facilities or toilets big enough on site they were directed to an ordinary room to use.
35-year-old pharmacy technician Claire told The News: ‘It was such a difficult situation. It’s lucky we were together because there’s no way I would have been able to handle that on my own.
‘And thankfully in the five years we have had him this is the first time this has happened at the hospital.
‘They do have disabled toilets but they are not adequate, the kind of facilities we are talking about are a pull down table that can accommodate larger children and adults and a hoist.
‘It takes two people to change him, we need to be able to lay him down.’
In 2019 The News reported how the issue of changing facilities at was raised by another parent.
At the time the-then chief executive of the hospital, Mark Cubbon, said they had secured funding and found a ‘potential location’ for such a facility.
Claire added: ‘I worry about how this would affect other people as well. There are adults who have disabilities who need proper changing facilities.
‘They said they had that funding three years ago but nothing has happened.’
Mark Orchard, chief financial officer at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust – which runs QA Hospital - said they plan to open facilities in 2023.
‘Prior to the pandemic, we were in discussions around the installation of a changing places accredited facility,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, due to space restraints within the existing site, we were unable to move forward with these original plans. While we have numerous standard disabled toilets located around the site, we recognise how it is important for the dignity and safety of people using our services with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as physical disabilities to introduce these facilities.
‘To support this, we have ensured our plans for new developments will have accredited changing places facilities built into them.
‘The first of these we plan to open in 2023 as part of a proposed extension to our main entrance, with a second to follow by the end of 2024 as part of our existing new emergency department development. If someone attending or accompanying a person to one of our services requires additional support, please speak to the team they are visiting who will help where possible.’