The new facilities, unveiled by Jim Taylor MBE from rugby support charity Hearts and Balls, include a sensory therapy room for children with limited communication skills and a brand new disabled bathroom designed with specialist equipment and extra space for those with complex physical disabilities.
The Scottish leisure group claimed it was ‘unhygienic, degrading and physically demanding’ for family members and carers to have to change loved ones on the floor and yesterday named The Wheel Inn in Scone as the first of its venues to complete renovation works.
Changes are also being made across six other sites; these include the installation of lower bar areas for wheelchair access, larger lettering on signage and the introduction of side lights on walkways for partially sighted guests.
“Generally, the hospitality industry does not excel at considering customers with disability,” Alan Stewart, Thistle Pub Company chairman said.
“Last year, the Business Disability Forum found that three quarters (75 per cent) of disabled people, from a poll of 2,000, said they and their families have stopped spending money at restaurants and other businesses as a result of poor service and a lack of disability awareness. We have always aimed to provide a warm and welcoming environment for all our customers with a good food and drink offering. These renovations will go a long way to fulfilling our ethos of serving the widest community possible.”
The investment come on the back of a comprehensive audit of Thistle Pub Company’s facilities by Deafblind Scotland, which provided a series of recommendations to help make the group’s portfolio more accessible and comfortable.
The Scottish charity is also providing specialist training for the group’s managers and assistant managers to help them appreciate the difficulties experienced by some of guests and carers.
“Thistle Pub Company III is setting a wonderful example to the rest of the leisure and hospitality industry in Scotland,” said Ruth Dorman, chief executive at Deafblind Scotland.
“The renovations will instantly make it easier for patrons living with a wide range of physical impairments including deafblindness to enjoy their time at the pub.”