By Karen Oldale
You only have to see the smiles and to hear the conversations at St George’s community hydrotherapy pool in Peterborough to know that ‘getting active’ in the pool is improving the wellbeing of disabled people.
In a far-sighted move, Peterborough City Council opened the former school pool to the community some years ago. 250 disabled residents exercise there every week. The warm supportive water and relaxed friendly atmosphere allows everyone to enjoy physical activity. A session or class at the pool is an integral and highly valued part of the week for many. Some use their personal budgets to do this.
Of course, not everyone is able to visit the hydrotherapy pool to see and hear how it enriches lives. Conscious of the need for evidence, cuts to local spending and with an ageing pool we, as hydrotherapy users, decided to try to capture some of the outcomes that we experienced. We also wanted to give those using the pool an opportunity for their voice to be heard.
Working collaboratively with friends in health and care we designed a survey that was offered to everyone accessing the pool over the course of a week. The answers and testimonies were organized according to the outcomes experienced to create a report.
The results and the story that they told were powerful. The positive effects of using the pool included improved physical and mental wellbeing, independence and connections to the community. But as you will see, there were many more…
We hope that you will be interested and encouraged by our experiences of Getting Active.
A little bit about me
We know that physical activity is good for us but if you have a disability or health condition, finding something that you can do and enjoy can be harder. It certainly was for me…
It was only in the warm supportive water of the hydrotherapy pool that I finally discovered a way to be more physically active and have fun. It was quite literally – such a relief!
By exercising in a warm pool, I found a way not only to maintain my strength but also to manage my pain. This was important. I learned that being able to be free and active in the water, in a way that I could not on land and without causing pain, was energizing, relaxing and pleasant. Even if I was tired after a session, it was a good tired. I felt just so much better. Regular pool sessions enabled me to keep my medication and GP appointments to a bare minimum, and to postpone surgery. My energy and confidence increased; I was in control. Life was enjoyable.
I wondered if other people might benefit similarly; surely I was not alone. I wanted everyone to have the same opportunity and experience. Fortunately, others in Peterborough listened and agreed and the rest is history… St George’s pool opened to the community in 2011. Now 250 disabled people choose to use the pool every week and as their testimonies in the report shows, I was certainly not alone…