5 April 2024

Dive in and reap the therapeutic rewards of Hughes' best kept secret

| Dione David
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A swimmer in the Hydrotherapy pool

Users of this hydrotherapy pool in Hughes have reported numerous benefits to their health and well-being. Photo: Hartley Life Care.

A cyclical form of arthritis had troubled Canberra man Bill Kerruish since his early 20s, but it wasn’t until a nasty bout confined him to bed for three months in his 70s that he gave up the gym.

One hip and two knees were the main problems, and when an orthopaedic surgeon recommended that Bill replace them, Bill was less than enthusiastic.

“I enjoyed an active life and did not want to put myself out of action for some months,” he says.

The search for an alternative to both high-impact physical activity and surgery led him to a hydrotherapy pool in Hughes, where he began group exercise classes twice a week.

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Once he learned a thing or two from the classes, he continued to independently book his own space twice a week at the hydro pool to take himself through his exercises.

Now aged 90, Bill still embraces a reasonably active lifestyle, including twice-weekly visits to the hydro pools – and openly sings its praises.

“By and large, my major joints, including my hands and shoulders, are as good or better than they have been in the past. For this, I believe that the weightless exercise in the hydro pool has been a major contributor,” he says.

“I have also found the pool a much more relaxing and enjoyable environment than gyms. I have no hesitation in recommending the hydrotherapy pool at Hughes to anyone with similar ‘aches and pains’.”

The pool in question, a modest 10 m x 5 m pool heated to 34 degrees, was purpose-built some 20 years ago for people with disability living at the adjoining residence operated by the Brain Injury Foundation but was under-utilised. For a time, a physiotherapist rented it, allowing clients to reap the therapeutic benefits.

Disability services organisation Hartley Lifecare took over both the residence and pool in 2018 to provide another accessible service to the ACT community.

“The initial focus was to build this business around its accessibility to encourage people with disability to come and utilise the pool, but it’s quickly grown into a place that people from all walks of life and abilities can access,” Hartley Lifecare Senior Manager Operations Jess Surgeon says.

She says stories like Bill’s are not uncommon among patrons of the Hartley hydro pool.

“There are lots of different benefits of hydrotherapy. Unlike land-based exercises, the buoyancy of the water assists with the impact on joints, and the higher temperature assists with muscle relaxation,” she says.

“Users have told us it has reduced their pain and set up their recovery from surgery or injury, and some people find it just really relaxing.

“We believe for all those reasons it can really enhance a person’s general health and well-being.”

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While industry professionals such as physiotherapists and personal trainers still book the pool to run group and individual sessions with clients, people are also encouraged to book their own individual sessions if they wish.

The pool’s capacity is capped at six people, allowing users plenty of space to exercise at all times.

“We’re a little niche in the fact that we don’t provide classes or clinical services – people can bring programs they might have received from their own physios or rehabilitation clinics, or they can (and do) make up their own exercises in the water,” Jess says.

“We do provide a variety of equipment people are welcome to use to enhance their time in the water, such as noodles, kick boards and water weights. Generally, we find people in individual sessions just grab what they need, get in the pool, find a corner and do their own thing.”

Given the Hartley Lifecare mission, the hydrotherapy pool is an all-access pool with equipment for people who cannot enter using the steps. This includes a mounted hoist, manual hoist and water wheelchair so that people can be safely lowered into the water.

“Our pool is accessible to anybody,” Jess says.

“You don’t need a referral to come to us. Anyone can hire the pool to use as they would any public pool – the only difference is that it has added therapeutic benefits.”

For more information or to book a space at the hydrotherapy pool, visit Hartley Lifecare.

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…and Michael Moore. He did his bit but as an individual…. Government did nothing!

Doesn’t take long to be forgotten but the cottages and the building that the pool is in were all built by Canberra apprentices with a large contribution from the design consultants, subbies and suppliers in the building industry in Canberra! The local government just made sure that it got in the way…

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