Having worked with retirement villages through design, construction, implementation, assessment and compliance of their swimming and spa pool facilities, Amotto Consultancy Ltd has seen several changes in the needs and requirements of existing and new village developments and their aquatic facilities.
"Swimming and spa pool facilities in retirement villages are no longer a 'nice to have,'" said Amy Waller, Amotto Consultancy founding director, "they are now a highly prized feature of any new village development."
The size, function, purpose, and design need to be carefully considered, with discerning residents seeing this as a necessary addition to their lifestyle in the village.
"What has been made apparent is that a lot of the older facilities are not meeting the standard," Waller continued.
Often without complying with water quality requirements, resident safety and comfort, or assessing the facility's current condition and recommendations for upgrades and improvements.
Assisting villages with compliance and ongoing operational support for water quality and maintenance can also make a big difference in resident enjoyment and assurance that your facility meets New Zealand and Australian standards.
The safety of residents goes hand in hand with accessibility.
"With an assessment of an existing facility, we often find that features such as handrails or non-slip surfaces aren't always in place or meet safety requirements," Waller said.
Hoists or ramps are already mandatory overseas and have been for years. However, New Zealand has only just made this a requirement for new developments. It is essential to consider how all village residents can comfortably and safely use the village aquatic facilities at the design stage.
"Those that are less able, or even considering residents recovering from surgery or injury, means that hoists or ramps need to be integrated into design in the very beginning," noted Waller. "Allowing for these at the design stage means a more holistic approach and can help maintain a high level of integration."
It is more challenging to retrofit accessibility equipment with an existing aquatic facility, but just as necessary, said Waller. Considering how swimming pools are currently being used or how the spa pool may be of use to residents, investigating hoist options would be an investment as they can often be included with only minor adjustments.
Water quality also needs to be carefully managed.
"With retirement village aquatic facilities having a large number of vulnerable guests, it is imperative they are treated in the same way a public facility would be," said Waller.
"Ensuring the water is treated to a standard that complies with industry requirements, ongoing assessment, and management is easily achievable and can be much easier to manage than possibly first considered."
Waller suggests that providing site-specific operational procedures and tailored training will mean that water quality can be managed consistently across one or more villages and work towards meeting industry standards.
"With the leisure facilities of aged care and retirement villages being an expectation, rather than an add on, as well as the design and style being of a higher spec than ever before, your village swimming and spa pool facilities need to be top of your list for consideration and management, meeting industry standards for water quality, operations, and safety of residents."