This weekend I visited Cafe Rouge Norwich Chapelfield for a pre theatre dinner (you can read the evenings events here). However my aim now is to describe and review their accessible toilet.
This is by no means a ‘perfect’ accessible loo, however it is one I get slightly excited about and I am more than willing to visit! (You wouldn’t believe how exciting toilets can become, it can be like grasping some limited edition find!).
Unlike many loos built purposefully to be wheelchair accessible, this one does not feel like an afterthought. It’s classy decor and fresh clean experience is something many disabled loos lack. Often looking very clinical yet slightly grubby I feel majority of accessible toilets are sub-standard. Yet Cafe Rouge appear to have taken as much care, if not more so in this toilet than the ‘regular’ ladies loos (according to my able bodied friends!).
Although in my opinion this toilet is moderately large (I can fit with another human and turn my wheelchair around) it is not large enough to be considered as a possible Changing Places, and does not have the crucial facilities of a Changing Places bathroom (changing bed and hoist).
Now being realistic, every single cafe and restaurant is not going to provide a Changing Place. But this particular Cafe Rouge is part of a larger complex, Intu Chapelfield Shopping Centre. In my opinion they could quite easily offer this facility. (Their current accessible loos are not something to be proud of, but I’ll get to that at a later date!).
Although the door to this loo is situated in the far corner of the restaurant, there is reasonably adequate space to navigate the tables and other diners. The large red door has some weight to it however moves pretty smoothly, (I can’t open doors myself) so I don’t think it would be hugely difficult for people with some mobility.
As soon as entering I notice that the emergency alarm cord is tied up to a hand rail behind the loo…. I know these cords can get in the way and be easily set off by mistake, however the reason that they are there and on a long cord is so that somebody, fallen and lying on the floor can reach to call for help. So please never tie up an emergency alarm cord, and if you see one tied up, untie it!
As is the fashion with accessible toilets, this one has ample bins! (I know there are reasons). And these bins are always huge! This bathroom could handle these bins no problem, if the layout was different. But as often the case, these two big heavy bins were placed to the side of the toilet. You and I might wonder why this would be of issue….? Well there are people with some varying mobility limits that transfer themselves into the loo. To do this effectively some people need to place their wheelchair beside the toilet. This, as you can see is not easy with the ‘bin obstacle course’.
These are all such minor complaints that can be easily solved, and really don’t get thought about unless you are in that position yourself.
The main things are in place, there are plenty of handrails that seem in useful places to me. The sink is at a low level, even though the soap and hand cream (that smell amazing!) are strangely high and out of reach to most people with wheels.
For myself this accessible toilet is adequate, spacious, clean and most importantly not a complete afterthought. With the adjustment of the bins and untying of the emergency alarm cord I think Cafe Rouge Norwich Chapelfield have done a reasonably good job!
Changing Places 0/10
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