Yesterday I used a toilet for the disabled and as I washed then dried my hands using the hand dryer I remembered the distress involved in doing the same in hospital....
...I balance the weight of my body on the sink edge while I stretch across to grab paper towels. With dry hands I look around me and spy the bin. It has a pedal. To lift the lid I need to raise my foot off the ground.
1. I can't lift either foot high enough to squash a fly as I walk.
2. Neither of my feet have the power to squash the fly let alone press a foot pedal.
3. I consider lifting the lid with my hands but years of working in infection control set my hand contamination alarm bells ringing.
4. The lids here are hands free so lifting the lid is impossible.
I look around while still hanging on to the sink edge like an abseiler about to launch off the edge of a cliff. Horror claws as I realise I will have to leave the paper towels on the side of the sink.
I would like to say I scurry off; but crutch, foot, crutch, foot, crutch, foot is all I can manage.
Back by the side of my bed it dawns on me that the policy to implement foot operated bins is all encompassing. The possibility that people cannot press the pedal is not in the plans on the assumption that the bins will only be used by mobile staff.
Nowadays when I visit the hospital I know why the disabled toilet with a foot operated bin has paper towels all over the floor. I chat about this with a friend who uses a wheelchair full time. He too has encountered the same problem in hospitals and resorts to trying to press the pedal with his grabber, often to no avail...
Patient involvement in healthcare services development is vital but I now know that involvement of wheelchair/mobility aid users needs to reach the core of every decision.