Access Granted: Choosing Disabled Access Equipment For Your Above-Ground Swimming Pool

Posted on: 13 September 2016

If you are disabled, or are close to somebody who is, you're probably well acquainted with how difficult it can be to enter, exit and generally use swimming pools that don't have disabled access equipment. However, while complex and expensive disabled access equipment was previously the preserve of commercially-owned pools, manufacturers now make a range of equipment designed to allow easy disabled access to smaller residential pools, including the above-ground models found in many an Australian back garden. Take a look at the following access options to determine which is best suited to you and your needs.

Access steps

These devices are essentially larger versions of standard pool ladders, which are angled and lengthened so they can be used as steps. While these steps obviously aren't much use to wheelchair-bound swimmers, they can be a great boon for swimmers with less profound disabilities, balance or perception problems, or other people who are disabled but retain the ability to walk. Built-up handrails are provided to assist balance, and the steps are covered with high-friction pads to prevent slipping. They are an excellent solution for people who find disabled access lifts undesirable and unaffordable.

However, the larger size of these steps can mean sacrificing a significant amount of free swimming space in your pool, so they may not be an ideal solution for smaller above-ground pools and spas. To get around this problem you can choose a lifting model that folds and stows away when not in use, but bear in mind that these models are generally more expensive and can damage your pool floor/liner if improperly fitted.

Stationary access lifts

Designed to help wheelchair-bound swimmers and other more physically disabled people to access your pool, these lifts consist of a motorised boom connected to a chair or harness which lowers or raises the swimmer at a safe, controllable rate. These lifts can be operated directly by the swimmer or from the boom by a carer. Exceptionally useful for swimmers who find it difficult or impossible to use steps, these devices are available in a wide variety of sizes, configurations and weight limits, ensuring every disabled person can find a lift that is suitable and comfortable.

Unfortunately, this kind of ease and convenience comes at a price, since buying and installing an access lift can be quite expensive. Above-ground pool owners will also need to ensure that the lift can travel high enough to clear the pool walls. If your pool has a raised pool deck this is much less of a problem, but you may have to call in experts to verify that your deck is capable of bearing the weight of a lift.

Chair lifts

These devices are designed for use with spas and therapeutic pools and consist of a comfortable seat attached to a rotating piston. As the piston lowers into the pool, it automatically rotates the user to face the water, allowing the user to remain totally stationary. These types of lifts are excellent for people with very limited movemen, and are designed to be used as an easily accessible seat once lowered. Most models incorporate adjacent ladders to allow easy access for carers and assistants.

These rotating lifts have similar disadvantages to stationary boom lifts, as they are both quite heavy and expensive. However, the lower profile and overall size of a rotating lift makes them much more suitable for smaller pools and spas, and provides less of an impediment for able-bodied swimmers. Unfortunately these lifts are generally not suitable for above-ground pools that lack a raised deck, as they are incapable of raising swimmers over obstacles.

For more information, contact local professionals like Gold Coast Family Pools & Spas.

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