Positive Update: Staff Did Not Know Where Accessible Toilet Was
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
This is my second Euan's Guide review for Coram. I last visited in October 2022 and wrote a review for their Coram Queen Elizabeth II Centre. This review is for their reception building when I visited their Between the Lines Panel event. I have put the positive and detailed reply to my complaint in the Additional Information section below.
Transport & Parking
The nearest tube station is Russell Square, which does not have step free access. The nearest tube station with step free access is King's Cross and from there you can get a bus to Russell Square and from there it is a 10 minute walk. The campus is opposite Brunswick Centre (shopping centre).
The main reception area has good step free access. There is a step free entrance with a manual glass door. The room where the meeting I was attending was adjacent to the entrance foyer and was step free. The room was laid out with rows of free standing chairs for a talk and the exhibition was on the walls. This made it rather tight for me to manoeuvre with my crutch, but people were helpful and moved to let me get by. There was no accessible formats for the exhibition, eg large print, audio guide. I appreciate this was a temporary exhibition, if it becomes permanent it would be helpful if it was available in accessible formats. There was no BSL interpreter or text to talk for the event.
When I arrived at reception I asked where the accessible toilet was. I was given directions only to find it was not an accessible toilet. I retraced my steps to reception and explained I required an accessible toilet. Both the person I spoke to originally and the person at the reception desk said they did not know where the accessible toilet was. The receptionist then phoned 2 or 3 people to find. The first 2 numbers didn't pick up and I was about to leave as I couldn't have sat through the Panel without using the toilet. On the third call the person responded. The toilet was upstairs. The receptionist accompanied me. We went in a platform lift to the first floor. Then walked along a short corridor passing the kitchens a staff sitting in an alcove in the corridor having their lunch. We then went through a door and turned into another corridor. This one had offices and meeting rooms either side. At the end of the corridor was the accessible toilet. I went into the toilet and noticed that the emergency cord was cut and was a distance from the floor. See photos. The receptionist had left me so I made my own way back to reception. I have given this a low score as there is no point having an accessible toilet unless you known where it is and can use it.
Staff were friendly and welcoming but could not answer my very basic needs question of where was the accessible toilet. The receptionist found me the email address so I could submit a complaint and gave me that information when I returned to the reception after using the accessible toilet.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
On 3 April on my return home I have put in a formal complaint to Coram. In my complaint I wrote: I would suggest there are 3 things that need attention. "1) Staff training. The receptionist informed me she had only been here a week and was most apologetic. However all staff need to know where the accessible toilets are and it should have been part of the member of staff's induction. It is very disappointing and disheartening to find that no one can direct you to a toilet that meets your access and safety needs. Some disabled people have bladder or bowl problems and may soil themselves while waiting to find out the location of the toilet. 2) Location of accessible toilet. The location is not convenient as it involves walking through corridors passing people's offices where confidential discussions maybe taken place. It is usual to expect a public accessible toilet to be available in a public building, and to be signposted and easily identifiable. 3) The emergency cord in the accessible toilet needs replacing so it touches towards the ground to ensure disabled people can summon help if they fall. I visited Coram last October and at the time put in a complaint about the disabled access. I had a response from Christine Kelly. I am disappointed that five months later, staff on reception don't know the location of the nearest accessible toilet. I would like to make another formal complaint. Today I really felt like a second class citizen as no one was able to quickly direct me to a toilet with grab rails that enables me to use the toilet safely. It did not feel welcoming, inclusive or that the organisation cared. As a disabled social worker I raise this as it is not an acceptable situation to put disabled children and families who use your service in." I will add my response from Coram to my review when I receive it. On 19/04/2023 I had a response from Coram to my complaint. "Dear Tina, I have just returned from leave and have had your complaint passed to me. I am very sorry that you have, yet again, had reason to draw our attention to accessible toilet facilities. I am conscious that this appears to be dereliction of duty on our part – and I can understand why that would be. In your recent email you conveyed your disappointment of our staff’s lack of knowledge of the location of accessible toilets and your concerns about the emergency chord. Both points are well made and fully accepted. In relation to the former, there is no excuse I can offer; it is unfortunate that both members of staff you spoke to were, indeed, new to the organisation and had a great deal of information to absorb – regardless of this it remains unacceptable that you were placed in such a difficult situation – this has been addressed with immediate effect. In relation to the length of the chord, you are correct in saying it should reach the ground – the chord had not been cut – but does not reach the ground and we are rectifying the problem immediately. Thank you. The campus is served by 5 accessible toilet facilities; two in the QEII centre – one on the ground floor in the Story Studio, which you will already be aware of, one of which is on the first floor, accessed by a lift in the reception area. We have a further accessible facility on the ground floor in the Pavilion, the building situated opposite the QEII, one in our main building on the first floor –accessible by a lift and one further accessible facility in Gregory House on the ground floor, which is situated right next door to the QEII centre. Following your email in October of 2022, we are further investing in expanding our accessible facilities. This involves extensive building work and in one case, includes the re-configuration of the drainage system. It is for this reason that we are still not in a position to herald major change. However we have rectified some of the points you raised in October. For now, we have installed some grab rails to our cubicles in both the male and female toilets in our QEII centre. These toilets aren’t wheelchair accessible but they allow for some assistance within the main cubicles. We have also commissioned updated signage including directions to the accessible toilets and we have ordered a ramp for ease of access to the temporary reception facility when required in the Brownlow room. We appreciate your feedback and continue to have discussions with both our CEO and CFO who are both fully supportive of plans to provide more suitable and accessible facilities; I thank you for taking the time to write to us and please accept our most sincere apologies. Kind regards, Christine Kelly, Director, People and Compliance" Thank you Coram for your reply and your proactive response in improving disabled access.