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What are RADAR keys?

If the person you’re caring for needs to use a toilet quickly, a RADAR key might make life a whole lot easier. Find out why and how to get one…

As dementia progresses, many people find it increasingly difficult to ‘hold on’ if they need to use a toilet. Finding a disabled loo – then discovering it’s locked – is hugely frustrating, and waiting in a long queue for a public toilet can be stressful. If the person with dementia ends up having an accident it can be embarrassing and distressing for you both.

Four facts about RADAR keys

1. A RADAR key gives access to public toilets designed for disabled people. These toilets are often kept locked to prevent damage and misuse.
2. The idea for the key came from the Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR). The scheme began back in 1981 and is now often known as The National Key Scheme (NKS).
3. More than 9000 locked toilets in the UK can now be opened with a RADAR key. Toilets fitted with a RADAR key can now be found in pubs, cafes, department stores, shopping centres, bus and train stations and many other locations.
4. RADAR keys are more than double the length of an average key (around 4 inches long) so that people with physical impairments, or who are physically frail, can still manage to use them.

How do I get a RADAR key?

You might be able to get a free key from your local authority. If not, you could be asked to pay a small charge (around £5 including postage and package).

You can buy a key from Disability Rights UK (www.disabilityrightsuk.org), or you may be able to buy one from your local social services department (it’s usually best to contact the Adult Services team).