An incident in which a disability campaigner fell in the shower of her hotel room has highlighted the importance of staff training and awareness in hospitality venues.
Jennie Berry shared a photo of herself at the 195-bedroom Mama Shelter London in Shoreditch on Instagram this week after the shower chair in her hotel room collapsed, leaving her on the floor.
Being in a room with adaptations, a red emergency cord should have been hanging to the floor to allow her to call for help, however she also shared a photo of the cords in the shower – one was tied up to the ceiling and another was tied around a railing ‘out of the way'. Berry was able to pull herself towards the secondary cord and untangle it to call for help and was thankfully uninjured.
She posted on Instagram: "I sobbed. Cried at the state I found myself in. I work so hard to be as independent as possible – yet there I was naked and slippery unable to get back into my chair unassisted crying for someone to help me. Staff scrambling round pulling me for 20 minutes, whilst I try to cover what's left of my dignity."
She added: "Wherever you work/own/visit, I urge you – please CHECK your adaptations within your venue regularly. Ensure they are fit for purpose and not just two tiny screws to hold the weight of a adult like in this instance.
"Train staff on the basics when it comes to disability etiquette/manual handling. Invest in emergency adaptive equipment – which isn't as expensive as you think. The onus is on the business to ensure there is a duty of care for both customers and staff."
A statement from the hotel said: "We want to apologise unreservedly that this unfortunate incident occurred at our hotel that caused Jennie Berry understandable distress.
"We will be checking all facilities more rigorously in future from a maintenance point of view and increase the frequency of staff training for disability etiquette.
"We pride ourselves in being a wholly inclusive brand and will redouble our efforts to fulfil this."
Disabled access review site Euan's Guide campaigns to ensure emergency cords are accessible in bathrooms across the country and supplies cards that can safely attach to the cords and explain why they must hang all the way to the floor, for the awareness of both guests and staff.
A spokesperson from the organisation said: "It is far too often that red emergency cords are out of reach, tied up or even cut short. The lifesaving red cord cards educate people and businesses about the importance of making accessible toilets safer, so that the cord continues to hang freely to the floor and can be reached by somebody lying on the ground."
Red cord cards are available free of charge to individuals and businesses based in the UK and can be ordered here.