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Changing Place De Panne - Belgium

  • Belgium
Scope of application
  • Tourism
Type of organisation
  • Public administration

Accessible beaches in Belgium

On the Belgian coast, there are several initiatives to enhance beach accessibility; offering beach wheelchairs, inclusive sanitary facilities, and assistance. Referred to as "Zon, Zee, Zorgeloos" (ZZZ) in Dutch, which translates to "Sun, Sea, Carefree" in English, these initiatives aim to ensure a carefree beach experience. Importantly, this service is provided free of charge.

Operational during the summer months of July and August, there are a total of seven ZZZ locations along the Belgian coast. One of these sites is located in De Panne, near the French border.

ZZZ location: changing place at De Panne.

The municipality of De Panne previously housed a ZZZ location, but its sanitary facilities became outdated, failing to meet current minimal requirements. In response, the local authorities aimed to renew the site and extend the availability of the new accessible sanitary facilities beyond the summer months when beach assistance is typically offered.

In collaboration with a project developer, they acquired and renovated a former shop in close proximity to the beach, and also ensuring accessible parking spaces nearby. The upgraded location features two changing places, strategically designed to minimize queues during the bustling summer season. 

A changing place is a fully accessible sanitary facility equipped with essential amenities, including a washbasin, centrally positioned toilet with enough space on both sides for caregivers, a height-adjustable changing bench, and a tracking hoist system. Depending on the location or building, these changing places may also include an additional shower with a shower stretcher or shower chair. The thoughtful design and equipment cater to individuals, both children and adults, who require assistance during a toilet visit, need care lying down (e.g., due to incontinence problems), are unable to transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet and thus need a hoist, or can perform the transfer independently but require extra space.

At the De Panne ZZZ location, both rooms are well-equipped with a washbasin, a toilet with free space on both sides, a shower stretcher or shower chair, and both a ceiling hoist and a mobile hoist. The mobile hoist serves the dual purpose of transferring users from their regular wheelchair to the beach wheelchair.

During the opening hours of the ZZZ location in the summer, the changing places can be used freely. But because of the high demand, it is recommended to make a reservation in advance.  

While the changing places are freely accessible during the ZZZ location's summer opening hours, due to high demand, reservations are recommended. Outside the summer months, the ZZZ location is unmanned, but an online registration system with an access code and automatic door ensures continual access to the changing place. This system also aids local authorities in monitoring usage frequency, allowing for timely maintenance adjustments based on demand.

More about Changing Places in English and Dutch.

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