Those who struggle with the lack of accessible baths in the UK may be glad if, while they seek to resolve the problem at home, they can gain access to helpful facilities elsewhere.
An obvious example of this would be a hydrotherapy pool, where those with limited mobility can gain the benefits of using water to support their joints and muscles as they carry out exercises that would not be possible on dry land.
Sadly, the message appears to have been lost on those who signed off on the design of a new facility at a medical centre in Peterborough, who in their wisdom, decided the best place to put a new hydrotherapy pool would be upstairs.
As Peterborough Today reports, news in August that Thistlemoor Medical Centre would, subject to planning permission, have two new hydrotherapy pools was initially welcomed in the wake of news that the hydrotherapy facility of St George’s Pool would not be reopening.
However, it then turned out these would be on the first floor, raising accessibility questions for those with mobility issues.
St George’s Friends and Service Users’ Lead Karen Oldale said: “Every hydrotherapy user who commented also raised enormous concern that pool(s) were to be sited on the first, and not on the ground floor.”
She added: “If the centre and pools are likely to be used by many disabled people with mobility difficulties, siting the pools on the first floor creates additional accessibility barriers.” Ms ldale listed these as the need to walk further, deal with more doors and use a lift.
Among the other concerns she listed were what the evacuation procedure would be in an emergency and how disabled people could manage that, plus a lack of a Changing Places toilet and the low number of proposed disabled parking bays at the site.
While the Peterborough proposals may end up being amended as locals react to what seem to be badly flawed plans, many people with mobility issues around the country will reflect that the situation is little or no better in their area when it comes to public bathing and hydrotherapy facilities.
This makes it all the more important to have good, accessible bathing facilities at home, with a bathroom and bath that can be easily accessed, in order to enjoy the health benefits that a long soak in warm water can bring.
Fortunately, those who invest in such a bathroom can ensure it is done to their own specifications, not those of a poorly-designed medical centre facility blueprint.
Thankfully, there are some places where public hydrotherapy facilities are being made better, not worse.
As Pressat recently reported, the Chilterns MS Centre has just completed a £25,000 project to improve its hydrotherapy pool, with new and better pumps making the water purer and saving money through greater energy efficiency.
Pool user Karen Butler-Caddle said: “The hydro pool is a lifeline for people coming to the MS Centre,” noting it helps with her physiotherapy and enables her to stand up, which she cannot do out of the water.