Aquatic wheelchair exciting addition to facilities at H2O
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Aquatic wheelchair exciting addition to facilities at H2O Xtream
A new aquatic wheelchair will dramatically improve the customer experience at H2O Xtream for swimmers with disabilities.
UPPER HUTT, Wellington NZ, 13 FEB 2013—H2O Xtream patrons can now wheel their way into the pool thanks to the introduction of a new aquatic wheelchair. H2O Xtream, which is owned by Upper Hutt City Council, has been a champion of equal access for people with disabilities for several years.
Rachel Jury, Acting Manager of Recreation Services at Council, says the new wheelchair is another step towards removing barriers to access in the city’s public facilities. “We’ve been really focused on improving customer experiences for people with disabilities so we’re excited about seeing people come and make use of the chair,” she says. “We feel extremely fortunate that Experience Upper Hutt was successful in obtaining a grant from the Nikau Foundation in order for us to purchase the chair”.
The pool already has a hoist available for patrons, which it will continue to use, however the wheelchair will better meet the needs of many customers and also offers a greater sense of independence.
Upper Hutt businesswoman, Genevieve McLachlan, who has vision-impairment and uses a wheelchair for mobility support, was the one of the pool’s first regular customers to test the new aquatic wheelchair. Ms McLachlan says the chair will be useful for a range of people with different mobility needs. “People will really appreciate the sense of independence the chair gives them, and the added convenience for those of us who are mobile enough to use a walking frame, but don’t necessarily feel safe walking on wet tiles,” she says.
Ms McLachlan is a competitive sailor, and often goes Aqua Jogging to maintain her fitness levels. “I usually use the steps into the pool, but that is not easy and I don’t really like leaving my walking frame next to the pool in case it is moved or taken,” she says. “The wheelchair will be a very dignified way of getting into the pool.”
Ms McLachlan’s company offers assessments, training and products for people with disabilities that make it easier for them to do things like read print or use a computer, which means she is often sought out by community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with disabilities to provide input on equal access issues.
Ms Jury says that feedback from customers like Ms McLachlan is enormously helpful for Council because it gives them the information they need to keep improving facilities and processes. “Even today, while she was testing out the chair, Genevieve’s ideas about the processes we have put in place to support customers in using the chair have given us important things to think about,” she says.
“That’s why the constant dialogue between H2O Xtream staff and members of the community is encouraged – People need only ask and we’ll do our best to accommodate their needs and give them the best experience possible.”
In Ms McLachlan’s case, H2O Xtream reception staff are more than happy to take care of her guide dog, Pedro, while she swims in peace. “Pedro gets quite anxious when I’m in the water and the last thing I’d want would be for him to jump in and try and save me!” she says. “Being able to leave him there and know they’ll take care of him is great.”
Ms Jury says H2O Xtream lifeguards can assist customers by helping them get in and out of the pool using the aquatic wheelchair, and retrieving it once they have discarded it in the pool. The lifeguard will then make sure the chair remains in an easily accessible part of the pool so the customer can return back to the chair and wheel themselves out.
who think they might like to try the aquatic wheelchair
should give us a call and talk to us about what their needs
are and arrange a time to come in and test the chair,”
says Ms Jury. “We’ll work with each customer to create a
process that provides them with support while offering them
as much independence as possible.”
To speak with someone at H2O Xtream about using the aquatic wheelchair, call the pool’s reception desk on (04) 527 2113.