Thursday, June 13, 2024

Accessibility-first for Albany pool

A new accessible facilities changing room at Albany Stadium Pool has opened, providing the first public bathroom for Auckland pool users with any type of mobility requirement.

Specialised equipment and the bathroom’s spacious layout will allow children and adults with reduced mobility – due to disability or reliance on a wheelchair – to be safely showered, changed, and use the toilet [independently or with support, if needed] in a comfortable and private space – possibly for the first time.

Adam Wakeford (pictured), a wheelchair user of high-needs facilities, says Albany’s changing room will open the door to inclusion for many people in his community.

Prior to suffering a neck fracture in 2001, Adam frequently swam and surfed in his spare time – but hasn’t been in a pool now for 20 years.

“This facility will definitely increase my chances of getting in the water again and doing something I loved,” Mr Wakeford says.

“Other Auckland swimming pools do have accessible toilet facilities but they’re generally not suitable for visitors who need extra support. Albany’s new bathroom will demonstrate how organisations can start to provide equitable access.”

Adam has been involved in Albany Stadium Pool project from the beginning and is pleased to confirm the finished design meets Lifemark® standards, endorsed by CCS Disability Action.

The bathroom’s enclosed area can accommodate a carer and wheelchair comfortably, with an adjustable toilet seat, shower seat, flat change bed, a hoist and basin – all controlled using remotes. It also features an automatic door, slip-resistant floor, and a mirror positioned for those who are seated.

Paralympic gold medallist swimmer and Wheel Black, Cameron Leslie says the bathroom also offers new opportunities for athletes recovering from serious injury and focused on recuperation.

“Hats off the to Auckland Council for taking the initiative here. Fully accessible facilities are a constant challenge to find. Albany pool will support a key group of people to get into a pool more readily and achieve their fitness goals,” Mr Leslie says.

Upper Harbour Local Board Chair, Anna Atkinson says the accessible facilities bathroom has been a significant investment with $205,000 contributed by the board, but it’s one that will really benefit users.

“It’s the right thing to do to ensure that everyone can enjoy a public swimming pool. Often adults and children with high needs don’t get to participate with family members and friends. While accessible facilities were not provided when the pool was built, I’m pleased they are now. I’m sure the new facility will enhance the mental and physical wellbeing of those facing everyday mobility obstacles,” says Chair Atkinson.

Albany Stadium Pool first opened in 2017, with the accessible facilities project initiated not long afterwards. The bathroom’s actual build has faced numerous challenges over the years including legal copyright issues, design changes and supply delays for specialised imported equipment.

Auckland Council’s Active Communities General Manager, Dave Stewart has commended the council’s Aquatics Facilities team for ensuring the project stayed on track so Albany Stadium Pool could officially open the door this month to visitors of all abilities, no matter what age or stage of life they’re in.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to overcome many obstacles, with a focus on ensuring equitable access for everyone – no matter what their requirements may be. I am proud of this commitment, and we can now celebrate having a public swimming pool that caters for everyone.”

How will the facility be managed?

  • Albany Stadium Pool’s accessible facilities changing room requires a swipe card to open the sliding doors, which will be available at the front desk.
  • Bookings are not needed. The changing room can be used anytime during pool opening hours however there may a slight wait during busy times and group visits.
  • Two wheelchairs are available for use in the pool.
  • A ramp and hoist are available to assist wheelchair users into the pool.

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