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Woman with dementia soils herself after Whitstable charity shop refuses to let her use loo

An elderly woman with dementia soiled herself in public after charity shop staff refused to let her use a store loo.

The 78-year-old great-grandmother from Chatham had been enjoying a day out in Whitstable with her daughter when the incident happened.

The incident happened at the RSPCA charity shop in Whitstable. Picture: Google Street View
The incident happened at the RSPCA charity shop in Whitstable. Picture: Google Street View

She had an "extreme, sudden urge for the toilet" while shopping at the RSPCA charity shop in Oxford Street, but was not allowed to use a staff-only bathroom.

The shop says the toilet is accessed through restricted areas, while Covid restrictions mean they weren't able to make an exception.

But the woman's daughter, Gaynor Kemp-Moore, has slammed staff for "lacking empathy and compassion".

"I said to the manager 'do you mind if my mum uses your loo? She's got dementia and she's in dire need'," said the 52-year-old.

"The lady said 'no'.

Gaynor Kemp-Moore, from Chatham
Gaynor Kemp-Moore, from Chatham

"I told her my mum has got dementia and she really can't wait - the urgency's very great. But she said no, the toilets aren't for public use.

"My mum, bless her, crept out to the front of the shop, by which time she'd soiled herself."

Mrs Kemp-Moore was forced to help her mum into an alleyway near the shop, where she could remove her clothing.

"She was in such a terrible mess, we had to go straight home," she said. "It's just terrible. I just felt so angry.

"For people who haven't lived with dementia, it's the most awful disease. These people just don't understand.

"If that was their loved one and someone denied their loved ones the use of a toilet...it's disgraceful."

Mrs Kemp-Moore has since launched a complaint with the charity shop.

The RSPCA has responded by saying: "We apologise for the distress caused by this incident - we value all our supporters and welcome and support those with extra needs or disabilities.

"It was something they needed to act with empathy and compassion over, and they didn't..."

"We immediately looked into what happened with the help of the shop staff and volunteers - which is run by the Canterbury & District Branch, who have been in contact with the customer.

"The staff toilet is accessed through areas that are restricted for health and safety and security reasons, and with the addition of strict Covid-19 restrictions put in place for the protection of customers and staff, they were unfortunately not able to make allowances that they may have been able to under different circumstances, for a vulnerable person to use the staff toilet."

The charity claims Mrs Kemp-Moore had continued to shop after staff gave her directions to the nearest public loo.

But Mrs Kemp-Moore disputes this, saying she was on the way to pay for her items when she spoke to the manager.

The RSPCA spokesman said: "While the customer continued to browse the shop and made a purchase, the staff gave advice to suggest alternative facilities nearby, and have also since put up signs in the store to suggest the nearest public facilities, to prevent this unfortunate situation from happening again."

But Mrs Kemp-Moore said: "They didn't say that and if they had it would have been too late.

"My mum's old and frail and she got the need there and then.

"It was something they needed to act with empathy and compassion over, and they didn't."

Mrs Kemp-Moore says she understands the loo is not meant for public use, especially during the pandemic.

"But this was a dire situation," she said. "You could see my mum was in dire need of the loo.

"To be denied that is awful.

"So I just felt very, very angry and upset, to think that someone couldn't show any compassion to my mum."

Mrs Kemp-Moore says another store allowed her mum to use a staff-only bathroom, when a similar incident occurred last month.

"I was in B&M and I said 'my mum really needs to use the toilet', and the lady kindly took my mum and just stood outside," she said.

"I just think people should be more understanding. It's a human need.

"We were just out for the day in Whitstable to make some memories, because I don't know how long it will be before my mum has to have full-time care. This ruined a really lovely day."

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