Disability Society comments on Accessible Pool

Dear Sir,

The Disability Society noted with interest the comment by the Chief Minister in his press conference of 29th July regarding the accessible pool. He stated "At the Accessible Pool the uptake of allocations has not been as high as expected. The GSLA is monitoring this with a view to return to a normal summer schedule….” After consulting with our members it has become clear that the tight restrictions put in place are making it difficult for many to use the facilities despite their willingness to do so. The official Government statement regarding the use of the pool stated that siblings would be unable to attend the pool.

Although the Society understands that this rule is discretionary, something not publicly stated by Government, it has been the reason for some families being unwilling to attend. This can be particularly difficult if only one parent is available for the care of their children. The two hour limit per slot is also a factor. It can take a lot of time and effort to prepare someone with severe disabilities for an outing. Having to rush to make sure you are on time combined with the worry of then trying to persuade said person to leave the pool after such a relatively short time makes it extremely stressful. At present there is a six person limit and this has not been increased despite the move to phase 5 of unlock the rock.

It is unclear as to the exact meaning of “returning to the normal summer schedule.” Does this mean the pool with be open to all pool pass holders with no limit on number of persons or time restrictions? As this seems unlikely perhaps clarification should be forthcoming. The Society would like to suggest the following options for consideration as a way forward to increase the use of the pool and outside area by persons with disabilities.

1. A slight increase in the number of persons allowed to use the pool and the outside facility still keeping with the social distancing policy. This would be in line with the increase in numbers of persons allowed to socialise in phase 5 of unlock the rock. It would also be in line with the Government decision to combine Golden hour and Silver hour users in the exclusive use of the other bathing facilities for the elderly.

2. The inclusion of siblings – if necessary limiting it to siblings under the age of 16.

3. An increase in the length of time of the slots allocated. Bearing in mind the pool is now not available before 1pm due to Stay and Play.

This means there are only 7 hours for other users. Perhaps 2 slots of three and half hours or no time limit at all. It must be remembered that other facilities are open solely to the elderly on certain days and they are not restricted to timed slots and may use the facilities for up to 10 hours a day!

The Society understands that it is still necessary to have precautions in place for the safety of persons with disabilities. But it is also necessary to provide facilities for persons with disabilities in the same way they are provided for the elderly. It is vital that adjustments be tried to allow wider use of the accessible pool before Government give up and deny persons with disabilities a safe and exclusive bathing area.

The Disability Society

03-07-2020 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR