Install family washrooms for those with certain needs

Family washrooms may be more appropriate for people with invisible disabilities, who do not require the support features of disability toilets, but have difficulty using communal washrooms ("Allow special needs kids to use disability toilets" by Mrs Hong Wai Yee; Tuesday).

It is difficult for a lone parent

with a baby in a baby carrier or stroller to use a standard toilet, because of space constraints.

If a young girl needs to use a toilet, her father may feel uncomfortable letting her enter a women's communal washroom alone or taking her into the men's communal washroom.

Similarly, if the father is the one who needs to use the toilet, he may not feel comfortable leaving his young daughter alone outside.

It would be the same problem for a parent with an older child of the opposite sex who has visible or invisible disabilities.

A family washroom with the usual fittings of a standard toilet, plus a waiting area, is better for these parents.

The waiting area, partitioned by a translucent collapsible door lockable only by the parent, can be installed with a baby cot, a child seat and an adult seat of the fold-down type with safety harnesses.

The waiting area must have sufficient turning radius for baby strollers and wheelchairs.

Soothing murals on the ceiling and walls can help occupy the attention of the child waiting for the parent.

A family washroom is also suitable for an adult who is apprehensive about having his very vulnerable parent wait outside a standard toilet.

Owners of buildings that seek to provide a friendly ambience for their visitors will likely appreciate the value of extending the pleasant experience to various visitor groups with different washroom needs.

The Government could take the lead by installing family washrooms in buildings frequented by the public, such as hospitals, polyclinics and the HDB main office.

Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Install family washrooms for those with certain needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe