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Research by Colostomy UK has shown that 25% of people living with a stoma in the UK are worried about using an accessible toilet having previously been physically or verbally abused for doing so, while 62% believe a lack of suitable toilet facilities impacts their day-to-day life, creating barriers to many things most of society take for granted.

People with a stoma have additional needs when using the toilet; even a simple day trip can be a potential source of anxiety. Because the condition is ‘hidden’, they often face discrimination too, being challenged or criticised for using accessible toilets. In our recent survey more than 30% of respondents stated that they had experienced problems of this nature in shops, sporting venues and visitor attractions.

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Caroline Richards from Bridgend’s description about the challenges of using public disabled toilets with a colostomy bag was shared almost 13,000 times on social media. She hopes her message, posted on Facebook on December 7, will lead to changes in design of public toilets and the message is taken up by architects, designers and local authorities.

“All I am asking for is if any new public buildings are being built or ones being refurbished, that they think about putting a little fold down shelf in the disabled toilet at a reasonable height,” she told Wales Online.

The following changes are simple to implement and can make a huge difference to the experience of people living with a stoma.

Essentials for public toilets

Hook on door – To hang clothing, handbags and luggage while changing stoma bags. This provides more space in the cubicle.

Shelf space – To enable ostomates to spread out their items easily and avoid having to use unsanitary surfaces.

Mirror – To enable users to see their stoma while changing their appliances.

Disposal bin in every cubicle – To avoid embarrassment for men and women having to dispose of their stoma bag in public view.


Accessible #stomafriendly toilet signage – To highlight the right of ostomates to use the toilet. Reduces risk of hostility for ostomates when using an accessible toilet. Colostomy UK offers free of charge stickers.

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Colostomy UK want to make sure that they are there for everyone who has a stoma, supporting their needs and empowering them to lead full and fruitful lives without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

Their current campaigns focus on encouraging organisations to upgrade their accessible toilets so that they are ‘Stoma Friendly’.