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SPN APR 2012 ProjectShowcase

ABOVE: The comprehensive plant installation ‘turns the pool water over’ in less than an hour

ABOVE: A mechanical hoist offers easy access, suspended from rails over the pool

ABOVE: Chris Walker, London Swimming Pool’s engineer who headed up the works

particular the joints, can be very liberating for those who are suffering from a chronic condition such as arthritis, osteoporosis or back problems or can make exercise even easier or even possible as well as increase the range of movement. The benefits of hydrotherapy can speed up recovery from illness, injuries and surgery. In fact young Rosie has been recovering from a hip operation a year ago and the rehabilitative properties of the pool have speeded up the process of her regaining movement confirms her mother who is overjoyed at the arrival of the pool at the school. Rosie is now able to enter the water almost on her own thanks to the ramp featuring raised hand rails and very wide steps with non-slip tiles. As well as offering easy access for those with limited mobility, these specialist design features, in particular the black tile edging, greatly assist those who are visually impaired. The pool’s shallow constant depth of 1.2 metres makes it a safe place to swim for most abilities.

For those who cannot manage steps at all then there is a mechanical hoist for easy and secure access suspended from rails running between the high dependency shower/changing facilities and the pool. This equipment makes it possible for Danielle, Year 10, who has extremely limited independent mobility, to enter the water where she is then able to float on her own with the help of simple buoyancy aides. The 7x7 metre pool accommodates 15 users at any one time and assistance and interaction for those in the water can also be provided by teachers from the sunken walkway alongside one end of the pool. This useful feature enables support staff to communicate with those in the pool at eye level without the need to enter the water.

In addition to the recuperative benefits of the hydrotherapy pool, the pupils are benefitting from the calming and relaxing properties of water. Many parents and teachers said they are noticing the regular sessions in the pool are increasing self- confidence and motivation amongst the children and having a positive impact on behaviour. Jo Poole, who has worked at St Nicholas for 15 years, said: “It is such an uplifting experience to support our most profoundly disabled pupils in the water where their independence is maximised and they have the freedom of movement that we have every day and just take for granted. Their smiles speak a thousand words.”

Head Teacher Jill Owen said: “We stuck to a dream for the kind of pool that we felt our children and young people deserved and the end result hasn’t disappointed us! From the school’s perspective our pool is a unique learning environment which we can use in a huge variety of ways. It is also a great place to be and we hope that it will be well used outside of the school day. We hope that it is a venture which will inspire other special needs schools to reflect on the comprehensive benefits that a hydrotherapy pool could bring on so many levels.” All parties involved in the 11 month long construction project are pleased with the end result and staff are especially grateful that the careful coordination and management ensured that the installation ran smoothly and there was minimal disruption to the everyday life of the school. “Another very important requirement,” said Chris Caselton of Bailey Partnership, “was the need for careful financial management as the funding for the project was the result of many years fundraising by the Rotary Club and the SNAP

charity and the budget was finite. By a combination of value engineering and design development, together with some successful grant applications, the scheme has been constructed with everything the school required and within their budget.”

Chris Walker, Project Manager at London Swimming Pool Company added: “It really was a pleasure to supervise the installation development for this pool which will bring joy to so many children.”

Hydrotherapy pools require a high capacity water treatment system due to the warmer temperature and this is effectively managed at St Nicholas with the help of two deep bed filter units, eight skimmers, four sumps and six returns in the pool walls and four inlets in the floor. The comprehensive plant installation results in the 45.5 m³ of water turning over in less than one hour with a filtration velocity of 25m³/hour/m³. The Triogen ultraviolet plant and the Aquatrol high precision chlorine and pH controller ensure that the water is always clear and safe to use. To assist with overall running costs, the building and plant design has taken advantage of the latest developments in sustainable energy resources by incorporating solar heating panels located on the roof of the pool building, also greatly reducing the carbon footprint.

Not only will every child at St Nicholas now be able to swim regularly, the school wants their pool to be a resource for the local community, particularly for people who have disabilities who cannot access local pools. The school has received enquiries from over 20 potential user groups covering a wide range of ages and needs from Water Babies to the MS Society. spn

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