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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gavin, Splash Principal Physiotherapist

Accessible beaches and pools: tips for summer!

Here's some tips I've discovered for accessing the water around Melbourne this summer.

1. Accessible beaches

Rubber matting will be laid out along the sand. The trial will be managed by the Altona Swimming and Life Saving club, and the Williamstown lifesaving club.

The mats reportedly cover the soft sand, allowing people using wheelchairs, walking aids and prams to more easily get down to the hard sand. Let me know if you check it out!

The mats will be available on weekends, during life saving hours, from this weekend til March 27. All the details are on the council website.

A Sandcruiser beach chair will be available for hire

There will also be a Sandcruiser beach wheelchair for free trial to get from the sand to the water, but I imagine this may be an adult size, and not suitable for everyone. Book it at: 9932 1109 or during business hours, or on weekends phone the Altona Life Saving Club on 0425 727 125. All details, including loan agreements, on the council's beach accessibilty website.

Other accessible beaches?

This is also happening in Lake Macquarie, NSW and the Disabled Surfers Association are working on making beaches more accessible across Australia, and offer come and try days.

If you know of another great accessible beach, please let me know! We could create a great little directory to help us get our toes sandy this summer.

"Have wheelchair will travel"

This family have a fantastic blog called "Have wheelchair will travel" and show the great fun they have, and some their solutions to accessibility puzzles. This is their facebook page for more info.

Keen for some ideas?

If you're wanting to get into the water, and havn't before, or could do with some help and ideas to build your confidence getting in yourself or swimming with a carer, that's where I can help with aquatic physiotherapy.

While we only provide aquatic physiotherapy sessions for babies, children and young people, we are happy to provide a few aquatic physiotherapy sessions to help with people of any age getting confident in getting into the water and finding their bearings.

2. Closer to the pool? Accessible swimming pools are not far away from most Melbourne suburbs.

Most council run pools have some type of accessibility feature.

Ramps and water wheelchairs

Some of our families often visit the Ascot Vale Leisure Centre's 'hydrotherapy' pool which has a long ramp and water wheelchair for use, and accessible bathrooms.

This is an example of a ramp leading into a swimming pool for use with water wheelchairs.

This is an example of a water wheelchair commonly used in public pools. Please be careful! Check the wheels, breaks, seats and back rests, and note that these arm rests are designed to pop out! Always ask for help from a lifeguard or physiotherapist. to get acquainted with new equipment :-)

Hoists to enter swimming pools:

Other pools such as MSAC's 25m pool have hoists for use, and lifeguards happy to assist in transferring into the water.

Here's examples of 2 pool hoists (click on the photos for links to their suppliers).

Enjoy your swims this summer, and stay safe around water :-)

Shayna Gavin is a physiotherapist who is passionate about helping babies, children and young people learn functional skills so they can participate in life at home, school and in their community. Recognising that children do best in their own environments, she visits homes, schools, and leisure activities from football fields to ballet classes. She also has daily aquatic physiotherapy sessions available at two private swimming schools in Moonee Ponds and Greensborough, Melbourne. She combines principles of paediatric physiotherapy, Neuro Developmental Treatment / Bobath, motor learning, Sensory Integration and swimming teaching to address the individual needs of each child and their family. She loves providing professional development to physiotherapists, allied health and education professionals, allied health assistants and swimming teachers.

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