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Testimony Supporting the Availability of Adult Changing Facilities

Dr. Constance Battle recently testified before the Maryland Senate about the need for adult changing facilities, which is legislation being considered this year.  She is a member of The Arc Montgomery County's Board of Directors.

My name is Constance Battle. As a developmental pediatrician, I headed a 131-bed hospital for children with severe disabilities and medical illnesses in Washington, DC, for 26 years.  Today, I am here as a mother of a daughter with severe physical disabilities, cerebral palsy, due to a birth injury.

Ursula would love to be out in her community, enjoying activities and getting to know other people.  Unfortunately, she cannot participate in community-based programs because she wears adult diapers and there are essentially no locations where she can be changed during the day. 

Like many other adults, Ursula needs to be transferred from her wheelchair to a flat surface and changed into dry diapers and fresh clothing.  She needs this assistance between six and ten times each day.  Otherwise, she is very uncomfortable (imagine if you were sitting in a wet diaper) and at risk for developing pressure sores which can lead to infection.

Last summer, Ursula (and 10 other people) had to leave a day program and move to an adult medical daycare setting because her personal care needs cannot be met in the community.  So now Ursula’s world has shrunk to inside four walls—only because she needs a place to be changed.

Who else needs adult changing facilities besides Ursula?  Persons who are medically fragile, overweight, have behavioral challenges, or physical impairment requiring wheelchair transportation because the chair cannot be accommodated, or the person cannot be lifted out of the chair and changed, or assisted to sit on the toilet, or needs to be changed lying on her back. 

Also, some folks need to catheterize themselves at specific intervals and need the privacy and environment to do so. Wounded veterans and others who have an acute orthopedic injury with casts also need adult changing facilities.  A surprising number of people need adult changing facilities at some time during their lives.

I ask that you support Senate Bill 44 which would require adult changing facilities throughout Maryland and would be a significant step toward the inclusion of all people in their communities.  Thank you.

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