If you have your own swimming pool – or you plan to install one – naturally you’ll want to make sure that everyone can enjoy it. An accessible pool is essential when you, a family member, or a frequent guest is living with a mobility challenge.
Besides the sheer fun of splashing in cool water on a hot day, your accessible pool can provide a venue for physical therapy, offer decreased pain sensitivity, and encourage a sense of independence.
Fortunately, there are several methods of making your home pool accessible and safe. The right one for you will depend on your needs, funding sources, and the configuration of your swimming pool and yard.
A pool lift is a piece of equipment similar to an elevator, designed to transfer people with mobility issues into (and out of) your swimming pool.
Pool lifts can be fitted with a seat or a canvas sling, or they may be platform lifts, that is, platforms which can accommodate a person seated in an aquatic wheelchair. They are available in various weight capacities, including some that are suitable for bariatric patients.
You will find manual, battery-powered, or motorized versions. The lift controls should be easy to operate, even by someone who has limited hand strength or mobility.
All pool lifts will work with in-ground pools, but some models may be suitable for above ground pools, as well. Lifts are frequently suitable to retrofit for use with your existing pool, and many take up relatively little space.
An aquatic wheelchair is specifically designed for safe use in a mobility accessible pool, even a salt water pool. Built of rust-free stainless steel or PVC with a mildew-resistant seat, aquatic wheelchairs do not contain the electrical components found in many conventional wheelchairs. As a result, the chair won’t be damaged by the water and will not contaminate your swimming pool.
NOTE: Many manufacturers recommend rinsing your aquatic wheelchair with a garden hose after use, to remove pool chemicals or salt water.
There are two types of slope entrance.
Ramp. A slope entrance may involve a ramp which slopes gently from the pool surround into the water. Because there are no steps or ladders involved, this type of entrance allows easy access to pool users, no matter their age or condition.
Slope entrances should be constructed of non-slip material and equipped with handrails. The ramp must be wide enough for an aquatic wheelchair or other mobility device.
Three disadvantages to a ramp entrance are that: 1) the ramp will take up quite a bit of space, so your actual swimming area may be cramped, 2) this type of pool entry can be quite expensive, and 3) it is difficult to retrofit in an existing swimming pool.
Zero entry. A zero entry pool, also called “beach entry,” has a built-in slope, which leads gradually from your pool deck into the water. Entering this type of pool is simple, whether the pool-goer is assisted by an aquatic wheelchair, walker, cane, handrails, or the support of a caregiver.
One potential drawback is that installing this type of mobility accessible pool requires a great deal of space, so it will only work if you have a big yard.
Handrails are a necessary addition for an individual who is able to walk into the pool, but who needs some support. Secure handrails should be installed on both sides of your pool stairs or ramp.
Talk With Us
After reading about the various types of mobility accessible pool equipment, you probably have a lot of questions. We’ll be happy to answer you and discuss your unique situation.
Set an appointment, either virtual or at our showroom, to take the time to address your needs in depth.
– Sharon Ward Taylor
May 22, 2020