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Beckenham widow calls for dementia-proof public toilets after witnessing husband’s struggle

PUBLISHED: 11:22 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:22 07 September 2017

Angela Clayton-Turner picture with her husband Ted, who she was sole carer to for 10 years

Angela Clayton-Turner picture with her husband Ted, who she was sole carer to for 10 years

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Angela Clayton-Turner cared for her husband for 10 years

Dementia friend champion Angela Clayton-TurnerDementia friend champion Angela Clayton-Turner

Imagine heading into a public toilet to use the facilities, only to feel you’ve become trapped inside.

For Angela Clayton-Turner that was part and parcel of caring for her husband, Ted, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 57 in 1995.

Mr Clayton-Turner would live for another 18 years with the disease, with his wife spending 10 of those years as his sole carer.

The Beckenham widow said: “When caring for Ted, I had to enter men’s loos more than I care to remember, although he was able to use public toilets, he was unable to find his way out.”

Spurred on by her husband’s struggle, the 77-year-old has co-written a report demanding better facilities for people suffering with dementia.

The report, published in renowned weekly medical journal The Lancet, states where public toilets are provided “poor design and signage are often barriers to independent use”.

Mrs Clayton-Turner added: “I’ve experienced first-hand how inadequate toilet facilities increase anxiety for people with dementia as well as carers, our report shows many older adults start to avoid going about their everyday lives because of the lack, or inaccessibility, of public toilets.

“This can lead to social isolation, loneliness and a loss of independence.”

Four years after her husband’s death at the age of 75, the Alzheimer’s Society volunteer is calling on business and the council to provide better toilets.

Volunteering as a dementia friend champion, Mrs Clayton-Turner informs people around the borough about the disease and gave her own solution to the problem with some toilets: “Just putting a ‘way out’ sign on the appropriate door would be a small act that would make a huge difference to people with dementia.

“Public bodies have a duty to make reasonable adjustments that mean people with conditions such as dementia are able to use their services.”

Suggestions laid out in Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia friendly business guide include the use of familiar or automatic flush systems, non-reflective surfaces and clearly labelled doors, taps and soap dispensers.

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