Leisure centres and spas nationwide are making great improvements in accessibility, and SEN schools and rehab centres are increasingly offering water therapy. This means choosing the right pool hoist is key to ensure safety while giving disabled users an enjoyable experience.
In this blog, I give my take on the important elements to consider when choosing a pool hoist, so you have a smooth installation and users get the most benefit.
Retrofitting can lead to design challenges – so consider pool hoists early
Retrofitting a pool hoist often requires drilling into unknown surfaces. If it’s an old-style pool with a tank underneath the deck, you may not be able to go deep enough to fix the hoist socket. If you have drainage grates surrounding the pool, you may not be able to fit the hoist close enough to the edge to lower users into the water.
Lift height is another element to consider – you need enough clearance to transfer the user into the pool (this is particularly important if you have an elevated pool). For example, the ceilings at Larkfield Leisure Centre were so low in places that a conventional hoist wouldn’t work, plus they couldn’t structurally support ceiling tracks. To overcome this, we recommended a Heron pool lift with superior reach and helped design a custom support framework under the deck area.
If you’re retrofitting, the best advice I can give is to consider hoist installation as early as possible, so you can explore your options and address these design challenges before installation day.
Ease of use is closely linked to poolside safety
Particularly in environments like leisure centres where the hoist isn’t used every day, you need models that are easy to use. Leisure centres, for example, often have higher staff turnover, and people may not be familiar with how hoists work. And if it’s the first time someone is visiting your pool, their carers may not have used your hoist before. Choosing a model that’s easy to operate helps keep everyone safe.
That’s why we generally recommend electric hoists. Using it is as simple as pressing a button, and there’s a reduced risk of issues related to operator error.
Choose the right stainless steel to ensure the hoist lasts
There’s a common assumption that anything stainless steel is durable. In fact, there are many different grades of stainless steel, and in pool environments you need the highest quality. Not only is it wet and humid, but the chlorine in the air corrodes the hoist material.
A pool hoist is an investment, and to ensure you get maximum value you need one made from high-grade stainless steel that will remain rust free.
The pool hoist needs to integrate with other care equipment
Consider the process of using the pool hoist. The user will start in the changing area, move to the pool by wheelchair or shower chair, and then transfer into the pool hoist. This means you need to make the entire experience as seamless as possible for users and their carers.
If you have a Changing Places facility, your user will likely have transferred by sling from the changing bed into their wheelchair. So consider having the same sling attachment on the pool hoist. That way it’s easy to use the same sling, and the user can enter the pool quickly and safely. Although having a chair attachment on the hoist can seem logical, it often presents challenges because many users have difficulty transferring into it and sitting up in a safe position.
And remember, you’ll likely have the user in their chair and 2 carers, so you need enough room around the hoist for everyone to access it safely and comfortably.
If you would like advice on pool hoists or want more information about how to make your facilities more accessible, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0845 658 8411.
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