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Looking for advice on equipment and design option

PeterStanley Member Posts: 2 Listener
I am part of a Community Group near Bridtol  that later in 2019 will take over from a local school the running of its Swimming Pool which we will be accessed  by the local Community . An important feature of our plans is to enable access to the pool and changing rooms and showers by persons who are not fully mobile including those who use a wheelchair and also the elderly . I am looking for impartial and expert advice on this access and equipment/design options 


  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @PeterStanley Pleased to meet you welcome.

    Thank you for joining and sharing.  I am one of the team of community champions on the forum. Who guide and inform, help , advise new members who join.

    I am unsure of an answer to your question,, I think you need to speak to a member of the SCOPE team

    Ring the helpline 0808 800 3333. I am sure some one there will help you.

    Please take care.

    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
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  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,799 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community, @PeterStanley!
  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,799 Disability Gamechanger
    Tagging in @Dbai686 in case this is of interest :)
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
    This is from an American site but I wondered if it would be helpful?

    How Do You Make Pools Accessible?

    Pool Lifts – Swimming pool lifts are mechanical devices that provide access to a pool. Pool lifts can be fixed or portable, battery-powered or pressure-powered, but they do give the most economical and easiest way to retrofit a pool for accessibility.

     Sloped Entries – Sloped entries are similar to ramps that are used on dry land. They are expensive to install but virtually maintenance-free once they are in place.

    Transfer Walls – Transfer walls, or low walls, allow a user to transfer from a wheelchair onto the top of the wall and then rotate and pivot into the water. You see transfer walls being used quite a bit with spas.

    Accessible Stairs – Accessible stairs provide assisted pool entry for someone who is entering the pool from a standing position. These types of stairs have railings on both sides to provide support as the individual enters and exits the pool.

    Transfer Systems – Transfer systems are a combination of a transfer wall and accessible stairs. A person transfers from a wheelchair to the top platform and then transfers either up or down the steps to get in and out of the pool. Obviously, transfer systems require strong transfer skills.

    The size and type of pool determines how many means of access are required. For large swimming pools with an outside perimeter of 300 linear feet or more, 2 (two) means of access are required. One of those means of access must be either a swimming pool lift or sloped entry.

    These are considered primary means of access for swimming pools. The other types of means of access can be any of the five. You can have two swimming pool lifts, a pool lift and a transfer wall, or a sloped entry and stairs - but you cannot have a transfer wall and stairs.

    You have to have at least one of either a pool lift or a sloped entry on a large pool. For smaller pools (those under 300 linear feet of pool wall), one primary means of access is required and it must be either a swimming pool lift or a sloped entry. Spas and wading pools have different access requirements.
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
    There is info here too about pool accessibility/.

    Have you spoken to the council? They might have rules and regulations around this and may even have funding?
    Senior online community officer
  • PeterStanley
    PeterStanley Member Posts: 2 Listener

    Many thanks  for your comments - they are very helpful. we have been in contact with the council. They use  hoists at their  public pools which we are trying to avoid as they are time consuming , needs someone to operate it and takes up space which we don’t have at the side of the pool. Also, importantly  it doesn’t give the disabled person as much control as we think they should have. Therefore  we are thinking of  a step-lift solution as it is more dignified and under the control of the individual . We would welcome any feedback from any swimming pool that uses one.

    The council is financially very stretched trying to provide their statutory services and unfortunately don’t have the resources to help fund the new pool building or its equipment.
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 724 Pioneering
    Welcome, best luck, and first, last and always the  most  important thing  is T E M P E R A T U R E.  Hydrotherapy  good, colder forbids use to those  most in need.

    Under a change in statutory duty, councils have a chunk of funds taken from the n.h.s., to ensure they provide  for public health.   Find that and demand it. The public includes disabled people. Repeat that until you are blue in the face and until the relevant council has grasped the point.

    Councils were reminded of disability equality duty only recently.

    Fight the council by quoting their statutory duties to provide  'equal  to, or better than'  for disabled people, to liase with n.h.s, and to use positive  discrimination to ensure any public funding goes to the needy not the greedy.   Kiddies, and fit healthy athletes can  be banned, or allowed only  limited access times at higher prices, .  They can go away and get exercise a thousand ways with no publicly funded facilities.  Arthritic old and or disabled people  often desperately  need special  provision if they are to have daily exercise options,  to avert heart disease and alzheimers. 

    Publicity is the huge catch  to beware of.  Nobody knows what is available,  so nobody goes, so there is 'proof' there is "no demand ".    Pools have, for example,  been such a male monopoly  that a vastly disproportionate  number of  lifeguards were male, the managements almost exclusively male, and they couldn't comprehend why women could  want women only sessions. So they made the pools open for males all day every day, and for women once a fortnight, late in the evening with no publicity and invariably with male staff poolside.  Duh.

    Do N O T permit the council to use the pool as a kiddies entertainment.  Do ÑO T permit  them to use it as part of the schools budget.   A pool where the water is warm and shallow is ideal for elderly and disabled adults and should be primarily or exclusively for them, absolutely  not for babies and absolutely not for children except for the disabled ones.  But all special schools have hydrotherapy pools, virtually empty most of the hours, days, years. School children can sensibly be diected to the underused school facilities, not the Adult Disability Rehabilitation Exercise Centre.    

    Various Age, Mental and Physical health and wellbeing organisations could put their efforts and funds and persuasiveness to assist you.   The loneliness initiative might well choose to run a cafe on the site. The green initiatives  might wish to create a wildlife sanctuary at the boundary.  People  who  want to volunteer,  retired or unemployed,  might be a great resource for their own sake, as well as those they help. 

    Changing rooms and showers need special care.   Wheelchairs bring dirt in, cubicles and showers need to be extra large, people take extra time.   Crutches users can be knocked over,  (especially  if children are allowed, which is another reason to keep  them away) and are likely  to  skid on wet floors.   Changing  room 'para-caring assistants' might be recruited as retired or trainee volunteers  to help  people  from the ticket entrance, through to the changing room and then to the pool, all in the indoor poolside wheelchairs.

    Try not to have an entire  group entering or leaving at the same time. Differently coloured wrisrbands issued at different  times of day will show attendants that the  pool is mainly  full of green bands, for instance,  with the beginning of a few red band wearers coming in. That shows that the couple of remaining blue band wearers must have had at least 'x' amount of time, and may need to be asked to leave.   Hydrotherapy  pools are not places to spend the day, for physical reasons.  

    U.S. A. pools and armed forces rehabilitation centres have examples of best practice. There are underwater treadmills, underwater balance  balls, individual  see through water filled exercise cubicles for hydrotherapy  supervision.   There is no need for much depth, so there is less cubic water volume to heat.

    Air must not be cold or draughty.

    Segregated sessions are important.  Some must be mixed for couples.  Some, and plenty of them,  must be women only, and that means prioritising  women managers and a predominantly female staff, because of the multiple reasons women, especially  older women, and especially  women  disfigured  by disability,  usually lack confidence when semi-stripped in front of strange men, and also because  of the multicultural community which makes it  doubly difficult for women to be in such situations. 

    Plenty of disabled parking and drop offs near the door. 
    Dropped ticket counter levels.
    No turnstiles 

    The staff must have shorter intervals between breaks, and must be allowed  shorts and vests uniform if they wish. They are by definition active healthy and  feel too hot, at temperatures suited for the frailest members of the public .

    Staff need to be health oriented,  supervised or trained by hydrotherapists.  Athletic shouty swimming coaches must be barred, as must the entire historic monopoly by the male competitive fitness industry. 

    If possible,  specialist dry land facilities could be on the same site, but should be tailored, e.g. not noisy, not involving leaping up and down from the floor, not using equipment suited for athletes.

    If there is walk in pool entry, have steps as well, and have sturdy double handrails. Have  handrails in the water to assist those doing lane walks at different  depths.

    Have at least  some part where people can do lanes, but  completely ban fast swimming,  which intimidates and causes risk.

    Have sound absorbing and low ceilings, and of course no overlooking of the pool, although one way glass with a view of a little greenery is perfect.. 

    Have no music. Have special  sessions  for  people  who are unable to avoid being  noisy, so they  feel safe knowing they are not distressing anyone else.

    Try to let the weakest have the option of access whenever others may be available to  assist them,  but particularly ensure they can use morning exercise because they often fear to be out past school hours in winter, and because exercise too late in the day can overstimulate and make sleep  impossible. 


    Errrr...... Please  never, never, never think of using the term "the" disabled, or "the" elderly.......even some ancient charities  still use those dehumanising terms. Once  upon a time, people  spoke of " the " coloureds.  They actually meant people of brown skin shades. 

  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 724 Pioneering
    Wish l could remember the name of one school in Spain where the pool was used only by the host school, and only for enough sessions  to teach early basic swimming for any completely non-swimmer pupils.. Apart from that, they not unreasonably turned over the pool entirely for older and disabled  locals, because it was unusually suitable. 

     I didn't see it, but apparently it was kept at hydrotherapy temperature  and easy to access.   It had ultraviolet filtering added,  which  is important because hydropools cannot be controlled by chlorine alone.

    They were a particularly community centred school, apparently,  always involved in activities  where the  locals  came to help the school, or the pupils went to help the locals.

    Bristol has a reasonable  reputation for being open to new ideas.  Is that  how it came about your group got to take over  the management?   Are you the pioneers?

    A woman in Hove turned her garden pool into part of a treatment centre, called l think Henry House. As far as l remember  from the  local  paper,  the amusing part was that she was told she needed a lifequard, so she became  one, then wanted to convert it to hydrotherapy,  so trained herself  as a pool engineer, which at that time was the first for a woman!.
  • Matt_Scope
    Matt_Scope Scope Navigate service Posts: 56 Pioneering
    Thanks for this question @PeterStanley .  I am a wheelchair user who works for Scope.  i'm a wheelchair user and used to be a swimming teacher / coach.  I will have a think over the weekend as to what I think might be you best most practical and realistic options.  


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