My daughter had an Eye Clinic appointment at Greenlane Hospital. She uses a wheelchair and requires a hoist and changing table to use the toilet. I searched the Auckland District Health Board website and there was no information about accessible bathrooms. We couldn’t attend the appointment without knowing that my daughter could use a bathroom. This is a problem for every hospital visit.
I had to call lots of people to try and find any information about accessible bathrooms at the hospital. It turned out there is no suitable bathroom at the Eye Clinic that my daughter could use. This is surprising since disabled people are frequent hospital users, and need to have convenient access to bathroom facilities just like everyone else. We ended up having the appointment moved to an inpatient room at the other end of the hospital to the Eye Clinic, where there was an "accessible" bathroom ... supposedly.
When got to the re-booked inpatient room there was already a problem. We found out that the toilet there had a hoist designed for much larger, bariatric patients and my daughter nearly fell out of the sling. By the time we figured out she couldn’t actually use that toilet, it was too late. She couldn’t hold on. It was humiliating.
The access law needs to require accessible changing places for people with complex disabilities, in all key locations such as hospitals, swimming pools, libraries and recreation destinations within local board areas. If accessible toilet facilities existed then my daughter could go swimming, join in after-school activities and go on family outings, just like other children.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.
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