THE frustrated mother of a young disabled girl is calling for more changing facilities to be made available – after being forced to use baby changing tables or dirty public toilet floors.

Sophie Douglas-Brown from Lowca, has started a petition for the Government to require all disabled toilets to have a full-sized changing table or trolley, large enough for children or adults, not just babies.

Her seven-year-old daughter Chloe has Jacobsen syndrome, a rare congenital disorder, which includes multiple disabilities.

Whitehaven News: Chloe Douglas-Brown, 7, has Jacobsen syndrome, which includes multiple disabilitiesChloe Douglas-Brown, 7, has Jacobsen syndrome, which includes multiple disabilities (Image: Sophie Douglas-Brown)

She has a bleeding disorder and has previously suffered a brain haemorrhage and had an operation to close a hole in her heart.

During a recent visit to Penrith Hospital, Sophie had no choice but to change Chloe on a baby changing table, which was far too small.

She said: “We have struggled with nappy changes while out and about in public. It’s resorted in her being changed in the boot of a car – where there’s no privacy – or having to get changed on the floor of a public toilet, which is disgusting.

“I was at Penrith Hospital with her and she was on the baby changing table which was far, far too small and she exceeds the weight limit for it.

“I looked at her and thought, this can’t keep going on. Why is there nothing for her?

“I just got fed up of having to fight on. She is well within her rights of being able to have a safe environment to get changed and very few places provide it.

“Our closest one, if we were to be in Whitehaven town centre, is Copeland Swimming Pool. That’s a two-and-a-half mile journey.”

Whitehaven News: Chloe and her brother, TobieChloe and her brother, Tobie (Image: Sophie Douglas-Brown)

Chloe is non-verbal but Sophie can “tell everything she needs to know” from her facial expressions.

Sophie said when Chloe has been changed in awkward places, she makes it known she is not comfortable.

“It’s frustrating. You wouldn’t change a baby on a toilet floor or on something that wasn’t safe, so I shouldn’t have to change my child in that situation either. It’s only going to get worse as she gets bigger.”

Sophie is worried that disabled people and their families will become isolated if facilities are not made available to them.

She said: “It shouldn’t be like that. The world should be more accessible and understanding. Steps aren’t being taken.

“I have been put off taking Chloe places because there aren’t the facilities there. I research before I take her anywhere. It shouldn’t have to be like that.”

Sophie hopes her petition will bring understanding and awareness of the difficulties disabled people face.

She also hopes that towns will have at least one fully accessible changing facility and for more places to offer larger changing beds.

“I’m hoping that people who aren’t in our position will understand our frustration and be more accepting and open to disabled people,” Sophie added.

A spokesperson for the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As part of any new developments on our hospital sites, we are working to include disabled changing facilities.

"To date, we have provided one in the new Cancer Centre at the Cumberland Infirmary and one is planned as part of the redevelopment currently under way at West Cumberland Hospital.

"Where facilities are not available, we recognise it is difficult for people with a disability and carers.

"Therefore, we encourage patients and visitors to speak to staff if they are looking for an area to change and staff will do their best to find a suitable area.”

To sign the petition, go to: