I was very excited to head down to the opening of the new Westfield Mall in Newmarket today. Not to check out the shops like the thousands of others who came out in force, but to visit Auckland’s first Changing Place. I knew that the designer Jenn Hooper, a parent herself, would have created another high standard accessible bathroom. These bathrooms cater for those who are unable to access any existing standard accessible public toilet. Jenn has already proved her expertise in design with New Zealand’s first Changing Place at the Hamilton Gardens.
We had just spent a rather difficult night in Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital but instead of heading straight home, we decided to wheel down the road to pay a visit. We found it an easy 30-minute walk and wheel from the hospital.
Location in the Mall
We found the Changing Place on Level 3. Access was via the lifts which were easy to find, spacious with fantastic access.
Plenty of room to manoeuvre with easy reach buttons to access the different levels. Braille was also available next to every button and easy to find.
Changing Place Bathroom
Accessing with a Registered Electronic Tag
There is a sensor pad to the left of the ‘push to open’ door. After you place your electronic tag onto the sensor pad you then press the green button to open. The large misted glass doors slide open to reveal the most incredible bathroom I think I’ve ever seen.
Again, it was wonderful to see that Braille was used everywhere for those with vision impairment.
Oh my goodness! This was our Finlay’s highlight without a doubt. Imagine having the ability to be able to wash your own hands. He was truly in his element and it cheered him up no end after his overnight stay at Starship Hospital. He found the tap lever very easy to use and delighted in the fact he could control the water flow himself.
The ability to adjust the sinks height is so enabling. Hand grips at the front allow the user to bring themselves forward if need be. The mirror is perfectly located and Finlay was able to see himself whilst he washed his hands. Having it large enough and in line with the sink edge cater’s for all eye levels.
When we entered this room with our own electronic tag and saw the changing place for the first time we were over the moon. It made us feel welcome and that we truly mattered in society. The Westfield Mall valued our custom and respected our dignity and basic needs.
The tag can be used to access any Changing Place that get’s built in New Zealand. The importance of having a secure access is obvious when you see the equipment in the room. It needs to be kept well maintained and safe from mis-use. It also allows access to only those who actually need it. Alongside these bathrooms you will always find your usual parent rooms, standard accessible toilets and regular public toilets.
On our visit we noted how many people, particularly regular families with babies wanted access to use it.
Registration is easy and the cost is minimal considering it’s a lifetime registration. However, Changing Places NZ understand how the cost can be a barrier to many, so have approached several disability organisations in New Zealand to help fund an electronic tag for everyone.
You can learn more on how to register for your tag by visiting the Changing Places NZ website.
Ceiling Track Hoist
The ceiling track hoist allows the user to transfer from the height-adjustable change bed to a height-adjustable toilet then over to the height-adjustable sink. A great design to enable more people to benefit from these bathrooms.
“These rooms cater for those that are unable to self-transfer and need assistance from specialised equipment and a caregiver”
Arjo’s height-adjustable change bed is pretty cool! You can lift the user’s head up and adjust it to the height a caregiver needs so their back doesn’t become compromised. There is a shower head to the left that you can pull over to assist with hygiene. The water safely drains down into a tidy drainage system keeping the whole floor dry and safe from slips. The change bed is so well designed that the water drains off the surface immediately leaving it dry for the next user.
This height-adjustable toilet is amazing! This toilet is not a standard feature to a Changing Place NZ design but it’s definitely worth having. In the Hamilton Gardens, where New Zealand’s first Changing Place was built you will find another one of these toilets with the ceiling track reaching right over to it.
You will also discover a few different bins in the room. They are for the safe disposal of medical items and for obvious hygiene purposes.
You will find available a fantastic wall guide instructing the user on how to go about using the equipment in a safe manner.
“Don’t forget your registered electronic tag and your loop sling”
Some Excited Potential Users
We met up with these lovely guys on the day and showed them inside. They were having a great time enjoying the fantastic access around the new mall. The Changing Place made a fitting addition to what they’d already discovered. These guys were here to shop, Kathmandu was beaconing with birthday money to spend and when you look after your customer’s they will come back for more.
The multi-storey carpark for the new Westfield Mall at Newmarket has a maximum height of 2.4m which allows most high-top vans to access. The Changing Place bathroom is just to he right as you enter.
Westfield Mall in Newmarket is very easy to get to on public transport. We easily wheeled down from the hospital which is next door to The Domain and the Auckland Museum. It took us a pleasant 30-minute walk. You will find lot’s of regular kneel down buses serving the area so walking and wheeling isn’t essential.
There is a train station in Newmarket that has carriages with wheelchair access. In only two stops you will find yourself right at Britomart Central Auckland Station.
For More Information
“Please REGISTER for your ELECTRONIC TAG to show the need for more of these facilities nationwide”
VISIT NOW: www.changingplaces.org.nz