As our world becomes increasingly inclusive, people with disabilities get the chance to participate in activities their able-bodied counterparts have always enjoyed, but from which disabled persons have traditionally been excluded. As a result, people with disabilities are more active than ever. However, people with disabilities often have trouble being included at the hot tub or spa. Obstacles like slippery hot tubs and steeply raised massage tables often make people with disabilities think they should just skip those activities. Yet with the right modifications, the hot tub and spa can be fun places for all.
Accessibility is Key
To enjoy an activity, you must first be able to access it. If hot tub and spa guests have disabilities, plan accordingly. Outfit hot tubs and pools with railings and small steps so guests can get in and out independently. Make sure that the hot tub temperature is low enough to allow for your guests to linger longer without becoming over heated.
If this is going to be part of the regular use for your hot tub, consider lowering it or partially sinking it into the deck so that it presents a height of 18″ for easy access, with a bench around it so that users can sit and remove their shoes safely before entering. Also a bench around the outside will allow them to get out and sit comfortably if the temperature becomes too much.
Encourage guests to wear shoes until they enter the tub or pool to prevent slips and falls.
Offer several massage options, including those that can be done through clothing, so a person with a disability doesn’t have to worry about fastening and unfastening clothing before a massage. If the person would prefer a nude or partially nude massage but needs help with removing clothing, offer assistance from a trustworthy attendant of the same gender. Help guests on and off raised tables, or better yet offer massage options that can be done on bench high tables or the floor.
Exercise is Not a Chore
Many people with disabilities are told constantly to exercise, sometimes to the point that it feels like a punishment. Give these guests a break at your spa. Discuss the benefits of hydrotherapy, but make it clear the hot tub and pool are first and foremost for fun and relaxation. Offer easy exercises such as hot tub yoga, and emphasize that the person can modify the stretches however he or she wants. Encourage guests to play hot tub games like Hot Tub Hockey, Submarine, or Ping-Pong Panic.
Offer a Plethora of Pampering
People with disabilities, especially women, often struggle to feel beautiful. Help them out with facials and manicures. Some people with disabilities have skin conditions or are allergic to certain facial ingredients, so always ask before facials or body wraps begin. Some disabilities also involve sensory processing difficulties, so ask if your guest is particularly sensitive to any taste or smell. Offer several fragrance and lotion options, and be sensitive to guests who do not like being touched.
Accommodate don’t Dictate
Do not force participation in any activity. If your guest with a disability just showed up to spend three hours swimming, or to get one facial, respect their wishes.
It wouldn’t be a complete post on SpaCap.com if we didn’t at least mention our Custom Hot Tub Covers. Over the past thirty years we have sold quite a few to people who have limited mobility and need to get into their hot tub for therapy daily. We love to hear how great they find our hot tub cover. Sometimes because of specific needs, we have to allow for lifting or pulling the cover off and on by pulleys. However the light weight design of the SpaCap makes using their hot tub easy.
If you have a hot tub and want to make it easy for someone to use, we would love to talk with you about how to get that done. And Yes, we can even accommodate hand rails that extend down into the water.