More and more specialist schools now have a hydrotherapy pool installed on their campus as part of their service offering. Here, water hygiene expert Dorian Davies of Darlly Europe explains a school's duty to ensure hydrotherapy pools are safely maintained...
Hydrotherapy pools are swimming pools designed specifically for the treatment and relief of symptoms associated with injury and/or disability, both physical and neurological. Hydrotherapy pools are differentiated from regular swimming pools by a number of key design and operational differences. Given that many users of hydrotherapy pools often suffer with mobility issues, they tend not to be used for swimming as a form of aerobic exercise and fitness conditioning. Therefore they require maintaining at significantly higher temperatures, typically between 30ºC and 37ºC. Bathers are often accompanied by carers or therapists, who would also not appreciate the relatively chilly temperatures that are typically experienced in pools used for swimming. Similarly, the air temperature of the pool hall is maintained at relatively higher levels to suppress condensation and maintain a more comfortable environment for users and carers.
Hydrotherapy pool design is nearly always deck-level which allows for more effective and efficient draw off of surface water through the filtration and treatment plant, as well as allowing for easier bather entry and exit. Design consideration must also be given to finishing materials, with extensive use of non-slip tiles, double entry and exit handrails, inclined stairways, and, where required, entry and exit hoists.
'Hydrotherapy pools must be filtered and treated to a higher standard than swimming pools'
Filtration and treatment plant must also be of an uprated specification compared with a standard indoor pool with shorter turnover periods, higher specification sand or cartridge filters, and automatic chemical control and dosing equipment, usually ozone or UV combined with a residual sanitiser. A comprehensive risk assessment-based care, maintenance and repair regime is also vital. Air handling, heat reclamation and dehumidification plant must also be specified to cope with the higher temperatures and humidity encountered.
Construction and operational standards for school hydrotherapy pools are enforced by the HSE and PHE, and published and revised by the Swimming Pool & Allied Trades Association (SPATA), from whom copies of the standards can be obtained by going to www.spata.co.uk, or calling 01264 356210.