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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Southside residents call for hydrotherapy pool

Hydrotherapy pool users continue to hold the ACT Government to account over providing suitable facilities in Canberra’s south, with over 3,000 signatures presented via two petitions.

The petitions called on the ACT Government to keep the hydrotherapy pool at the Canberra Hospital open and maintained until a new dedicated hydrotherapy pool is built on the southside.

Tabled by Member for Murrumbidgee, Giulia Jones, on 6 June, the petitions were referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services, for their consideration.

“I went and had a look myself recently. It is an older facility but it is very clean and well maintained,” Mrs Jones said. “I think everything comes to an end but this is such a vital service. I don’t see why you would close it unless you had something as good.”

According to Arthritis ACT CEO Rebecca Davey, hydrotherapy pools are essential for “most people living with chronic pain”.

“We have chronic pain users that use them five days a week because it keeps them mobile and keeps them existing in the community,” she said.

While there are a number of hydrotherapy pools in the ACT, Ms Davey said the problem is often they are not deep enough or the right temperature.

“A lot of pools are 33⁰C which for some people is okay but the biggest problem is they are mostly swimming pools for kids and only go to 125cm deep,” she said, adding that the Canberra Hospital pool is 165cm deep and 34⁰C.

In the best case scenario, Ms Davey said every public pool facility would have a hydrotherapy pool but admits “that’s not going to happen”.

Instead, if the Canberra Hospital pool can’t be kept going “for another 30 years” then another pool on the southside is required as “resources are really lacking”.

“We would prefer something that’s more central in the south areas but if Stromlo was all that’s available we’ll take that rather than nothing,” Ms Davey said, adding that any new facility would need to be fit for purpose.

In terms of the Stromlo Leisure Centre, an ACT Health Directorate spokesperson said it will include a program pool for activities like swimming lessons and aqua aerobics and “given these activities … will cater to some types of aquatic-based therapeutic activities and gentle exercise but may not cater to all hydrotherapy activities”.

The spokesperson said the ACT Health Directorate has engaged an external advisor, Nous Group, to: assess current demand and referral trends; ensure that current policy settings and contractual arrangements are appropriate; determine the supply of hydrotherapy and warm water facilities across the ACT; and provide advice to government about securing sessions at these facilities.

“This work is ongoing and, once complete, the government will consider the advice that has been received,” the spokesperson said.

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