New Dynamics of Ageing Programme

New Dynamics of Ageing Programme
TACT3 has been funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing
programme, ‘a seven year multidisciplinary research
initiative with the ultimate aim of improving quality of
life of older people… the largest and most ambitious
research programme on ageing ever mounted in the UK.’
As a collaborative research project between several
academic and public sector organisations, TACT3 has
explored the issue of continence management for
older people through three key areas: the provision of
continence management services; the development of
user-centred assistive technologies; and the challenge of
environmental barriers to continence. The Helen Hamlyn
Centre for Design investigated this fnal area by looking at
the provision of toilets when away from home.
The research was carried out over three years between
2008-2011. In year one we interviewed 101 people of all
ages, abilities and backgrounds about the challenges that
they face in using publicly accessible toilet provision. In
year two we spoke to providers of publicly accessible
toilets so that we could understand the challenges that
they face in providing good quality toilet facilities. In the
third and fnal year we explored design solutions that
address the key challenges faced by members of the
public and providers.
TACT3 is lead by Brunel University and includes the
University of Sheffeld, University of the West of England,
Bristol Urological Institute, the University of Manchester,
Dalarna Research Institute and the Helen Hamlyn Centre
for Design at the Royal College of Art.
YASMIN , Age 26
Sheffeld, Trainee Teacher
Yasmin has had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for four
years. When her condition fares up she needs to be able
to plan her day knowing that she will have access to a
toilet, and privacy from other people.
“Sometimes my mum will go and see what new
places are like and report back to me… because it
would just be a disaster if I went somewhere and
they didn’t have loos there. I would just come home
again. I don’t go places I don’t know.”
It can be very distressing for Yasmin if she fnds that the
toilets that she relies on are either closed or unclean.
“Even a map of the town might tell you where they
are but it won’t tell you what they’re like, and if one
was dirty but I have to go, well I have to go. I don’t
have a choice. So it’s really annoying when there’s
no toilet roll, no soap. It’s basics.”
After her diagnosis she applied for a RADAR key. This
allows her to unlock many accessible (disabled) toilets
that are provided exclusively for RADAR key owners. The
accessible toilet often offers a better facility for Yasmin
than using one of the cubicles in the Ladies.
“it’s quite embarrassing when you’ve got something
like IBS … you just want your privacy and you’re
more able to get that in a disabled toilet.”
The other advantage of the accessible toilet is that it is
often vacant.
“I’m not brave enough to explain that I can’t wait
as long and I don’t think that people would really
put up with it either … they’ll be like, ‘Well you can
queue like everyone else’ but at the same time, well,
some people can’t wait that long unfortunately.”

These four profles represent strong
characteristics and opinions that came out
of interviews with the public. The profles
are fctitious; the quotes are real.
Walthamstow, London, Retired Doctor
Leonard is 82. He has been using a walking aid for the
last ten years and can comfortably walk around his local
“I’m scared to go further because I’d have to go in a
bus and I don’t know where the toilets are.”
If he is to spend a couple of hours out of the house then
he will need local toilets that are easily accessible.
“As long as there’s a handrail on the stairs I’m alright,
I just have to go slowly and hope that nobody sort of
tries to rush behind me. It would be a big no-no for
me if there was a fight of stairs with no handrail..
..but at that time when the call to nature has come
and I’m trying to hold everything together, I don’t
need to be negotiating stairs at that point.”
Some places where he would expect to fnd toilets do
not provide adequate provision.
“Transport terminals are generally good but my local
station doesn’t have one.
Another place has a public loo but they keep it shut
and you have to go and knock on a door and get
the key and go and unlock it. What they will claim
is that if they leave them unlocked they will get
Leonard once had a bad experience where he was
robbed in a public toilet. He now thinks that all toilets
should have attendants.
“They should have a building, where there can be an
attendant with cubicles and a safe environment.”
He is frustrated about the misuse of some local toilets
and the overall decline in provision.
“ I went along to the police station and complained
about it. Nothing happened, but the place got shut
down. This is what worries me. People seem to
forget that nature doesn’t switch off just ‘cause
they close the toilets.”
Designing with the need of these profles in
mind could help providers to improve their
publicly acessible toilet provision.
PAUL, Age 38
Shropshire, Photographer
Paul is married with three young children. When he is
out with his family he has a very different experience of
publicly accessible toilets compared to when he is by
“I was quite amazed with one department store.
They have, like, sofa areas where you can feed with
your bottle, almost like a café but for people with
babies. It’s like a whole other world. People come in
and go ‘so how old is yours?’”
He and his wife have found that their routines have
changed depending on which places have child-friendly
facilities. In particular, they’ve changed how and where
they do their shopping.
“The out-of-town shopping centre is sterile and not
a great shopping experience, but if you have a kid it
is easier and makes you suddenly go less into town.”
His main problem is when he is looking after his 5-yearold
daughter. He fnds it uncomfortable to take her into
the Mens with him because of people using the urinals.
“I remember one time when I was in a bit of a fap,
and a lady offered to take her into the Ladies and
look after her. I had a tiny twinge but then I thought
“no, it’ll be fne” and indeed of course it was. But
that doesn’t really occur very often”
“You have family changing rooms in many swimming
pools and I feel that some thought might be given to
family toilets.”
Paul often feels that his only option when with his family
is to use the accessible toilet. This provides both the
space for the pushchair and the children, and a unisex
facility for his daughter.
“I see it as accessible to disabled people rather
than exclusive to, and it affords me a comfortable
environment where I can take a young child. I think
unisex toilets are the way forward.”
These four profles represent strong
characteristics and opinions that came out
of interviews with the public. The profles
are fctitious; the quotes are real.
JUDITH, Age 60
Barnes, London, Ex-Council Offcer
Like many older people Judith has high blood pressure
and has been prescribed water tablets to manage this.
However this medication causes Judith to need to ‘use
the loo’ more frequently.
“They make you go a bit often. So when I come out
for the day I don’t take mine. Tempting providence.”
She keeps active by running, but the nearest park to her
does not have any toilet facilities.
“I try to do 5km each day, you know. I go around the
houses and then up past the Tesco, because at my
age you need a toilet break!”
Judith often cares for her mother, who is in her late
80s. Each week she takes her to the supermarket and
then into town for shopping. Sometimes Judith fnds that
her own need for a toilet can hamper the trip.
“…when I turned back again she had disappeared. I
then had a real dilemma because on the one hand
I needed the loo urgently; on the other I needed to
know where my mother was”
Judith also has to think about her mother’s needs.
“For mum too… to be honest, that’s why I don’t
suggest that she joins a local pensioners group.
Because fnding a toilet is the overriding thing – it’s
her one big concern.”
She doesn’t mind paying if it guarantees a cleaner toilet.
“I was invited to a hotel this weekend and that was
lovely, they even had cologne, and big mirrors so
you can do your makeup, and a very nice lady who
you could tip. I was happy to put a pound in the
“ A lady a little older than me said ‘Well the next time
I am out shopping and I need the loo I am going to
come here!’”
Designing with the needs of these profles in
mind could help providers to improve their
publicly acessible toilet provision.
Real Toilets
This section uses examples from real toilets to describe
ways to make publicly accessible toilet provision
more inclusive for the wider population. Firstly, we will
introduce some of the different types of toilet provision
that may be new, problematic, or a cause of tension
between different user groups.
These are:
Community Toilet Schemes
Automatic Public Toilets
Direct Access Toilets
Accessible Toilets
Many local authorities are starting Community Toilet
Schemes, in which the local authority pays an annual fee
to businesses to cover costs, allowing the public to use
their toilets. These schemes can be a cost-effective way
of supplementing existing public toilet provision, and are
therefore increasingly popular with councils. However,
informing the public (especially visitors) of the scheme
and of the providers involved is more of a challenge.
”If (the business provider) has got a big poster for
‘Hen’s Nights’ then next to it a Community Toilet
Scheme sticker, they think it doesn’t really go.”
Council Offcer responsible for Community
Toilet Scheme
• Signs announcing the community toilet scheme could
be placed at ‘entrance points’ to the area, such as car
parks, town centres and public transport hubs, so that
visitors know what to look out for.
• Current schemes ask businesses to display a sticker in
their window, to inform passers-by that their toilets are
available, and of the types of toilet that they provide.
• Paper maps, directional signs and indicating community
toilets on town centre maps are all good ideas. These
should include details of the business’s toilet facilities,
the distance, and the opening hours.
• Many schemes also include toilets in council buildings,
such as libraries and leisure centres.
“Lots of people don’t like using APCs. I’ve never used
one and I’m not sure I ever would! And they’re very
expensive. Very, very expensive…”
Council Offcer
Automatic Public Toilets (APCs, or ‘Superloos’) have
become a popular option for local authorities because
they have been designed especially to prevent antisocial
behaviour. However they remain unpopular with
members of the public, especially older women, and
parents have reported their children being frightened
when using them.
“You feel silly standing outside having to read
instructions on how to go to the toilet”
Woman in her 50s
• The instructions are too complex, which discourages
potential users.
• Many people have had bad experiences due to poor
information design or mechanical failure.
• They are often positioned in the middle of the street,
which leaves people feeling vulnerable and exposed.
“Those ones in the market, I don’t like ‘em… they’re
so in your face. There’s no privacy or dignity there.
I was in one and it opened!”
Woman aged 76
However the APC does provide a clean, accessible,
24hour toilet facility. If these challenges can be resolved
then the APC may have a future as a late-night toilet to
supplement the overall toilet provision.
Real Toilets
A recent development is the direct access toilet. Direct access toilets are ftted into custom-made buildings,
or by modifying an existing toilet block. Each cubicle opens directly onto the street, with hand-washing
facilities inside.
• Some direct access toilets have a coin mechanism
in each cubicle door. This provides a way for local
authorities to charge for the use of the toilets.
• They are preferred by the police as there is no
opportunity for loitering in a communal area.
• A more fexible range of cubicle types can be offered,
including male, female, unisex, wheelchair-accessible,
adult changing (‘Changing Places’), family and babychanging
units, and a separate urinal.
• They are a suitable provision for parks, bus stations or
busy town centres.
• They are less suitable for remote locations or as an
isolated unit, as this is less cost-effective for cleaning
and maintenance services who need to make regular
“I think that without an attendant (traditional
public toilets) wouldn’t be very desirable. But I
believe in Cambridge they have a sort of carousel
arrangement, with the doors facing outwards
so there’s no question of people hanging around
inside.” Woman aged 79 with poor mobility

You Need a Professional Writer To Work On Your Paper?