For many people who are mobility challenged, dreams of going swimming were once thwarted by inaccessibility. The Americans with Disabilities guidelines were updated in 2010 to include entry and exit at public pools for people who have disabilities. With these guidelines, those individuals can now enjoy the fun at public pools.
A pool chair lift makes it possible for a person who’s in a wheelchair to be able to get into the water. While the exact model used may vary, all these chairs are usually used in the same manner. In most cases, there are instructions for using the specific lift located on the lift itself.
Some people may want to learn at least the basics of how to use a pool chair lift before they get to the pool so they can feel better prepared. Familiarize yourself with these steps that are likely exactly or fairly close to exactly what you’ll need to do.
Even if the lift is at a pool you often frequent, you should still look over the lift before you try to use it. Ensure that it’s stable and that there aren’t any broken or worn components. If you notice anything amiss, contact an employee of the pool so you can alert them to the problem. Never use a pool lift chair if you think that it’s not in optimal condition.
Move your wheelchair to the pool chair lift. Try to get as close as you can so it’s easier to transfer into it. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to transfer yourself into the chair. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, ask someone for help so you can do this safely. Be sure that you sit securely in the chair.
Most pool chair lifts have a harness that’s similar to a seat belt that you need to use. Never try to move the lift if you aren’t strapped in. You should have a waist strap that goes over your hips. There may also be two shoulder straps to secure. These help to ensure that you remain sitting until you unstrap in the water to start swimming.
Use the controls to lower the pool chair lift into the water. Don’t try to remove the harness or straps until you’re fully in the water and the lift is still. Remove the straps slowly so you have a chance to adjust to being in the water.
Once you’re in the water, use the control to return the pool chair lift to the storage position. Keep the control in a location you can reach unless you have someone with you who will get it when you’re ready to get out of the water.
When you’re ready to leave the pool, use the control to lower the pool chair lift into the water. Position yourself in the chair and strap yourself in securely. Use the control to lift the chair out of the water and into a safe position for you to get out of the chair. Only unbuckle the straps when you’re ready to transfer into your wheelchair.
Remember that you’re wet when you get out of the water. It might behoove you to have a towel handy so you can dry off as much as possible if you’re worried about trying to transfer into your wheelchair while you’re wet. It’s also a good idea to place a towel or an absorbent pad in your wheelchair so you don’t get the seat wet. This is especially important if you’re going to sit in the chair for a while and want to minimize the chance of an ulcer or sore forming because of the warm, wet conditions that will occur.
Some pool lift chairs have transfer assistance devices, commonly Hoyer lifts. These can help individuals to transfer easily from their wheelchair to the lift chair. Use these in the same way as you use any other similar lift, but double-check that you’re secure in it because of the increased risk of slipping due to the wet conditions near the pool.