A hydrotherapy pool for children and young people with significant physical and learning difficulties has been transformed using specialist products from Altro, opening up a stimulating new world of sensory fun and excitement with no compromise on safety or hygiene.
Vranch House is a centre for the treatment of over 2,000 outpatients with physical difficulties, a provider of various therapies throughout Devon and an independent Day School in Exeter for children aged 2 to 12 with significant physical difficulties.
Hydrotherapy has always been on the agenda at Vranch House, but this vital treatment has recently been given a new lease of life with a completely refurbished state-of-the-art indoor heated swimming pool, including Altro Whiterock™ hygienic wall sheet.
Architect Carole Trim carried out the redesign of the new facility and, for her, it was a challenge with love. “For pupils at Vranch House, the hydrotherapy pool is an area of escape and pleasure, where they experience greater freedoms in the water and so more balanced in their movement,” says Carole.
“It also enables staff to give one-to-one therapy, where they can be very tactile, build trust and so help the pupils to become more mobile. It’s an integral part of the education at Vranch House and has huge emotional and physical benefits.
“Before the refurbishment, the hydrotherapy pool was an impractical solution – expensive to heat, difficult to maintain, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. When the potential funding became available for the refurbishment, I was delighted to talk with the charity about how we could all work together to make the pool a more exciting space for pupils and staff, and a facility that would meet its full potential.
“The primary aim was to create a fun, colourful, stimulating and enjoyable space that would deliver a fantastic sensory experience; somewhere pupils would look forward to being, and where staff could really take the time to work with the children in an environment purpose-built for their needs.
“The walling choices were integral to this vision. Altro was a key partner on the project because they were sympathetic to the broader picture and what we wanted to achieve for the children. Their level of experience and understanding helped us to find a solution that delivered across the board; on quality, safety, aesthetics and durability.
“Therapy sessions in the pool use a combination of light and sound to open up the sensory world for pupils, and we wanted the walls in the pool to work harder to make this much more fun and exciting.
“We have brought more colour and light into the hydrotherapy by installing Altro Whiterock White hygienic wall sheet throughout the interior, and using it as a movie screen. It has a smooth, white surface which is perfect for displaying and reflecting colours, images and shapes to accompany music during therapy — a thrilling experience for pupils as the light and sound bounces off the walls and water.
“This product ticked a lot of boxes on so many levels. It would not only boost the sensory and visual experience for pupils, but also prove a hygienic, practical choice. I have specified Altro Whiterock many times in the past very successfully, as an ideal alternative to tiles for environments where both hygiene and aesthetics are paramount.”
Altro Whiterock White is impact resistant, grout-free and easy to clean. Its smooth white surface and classical purity make it a timeless choice for any interior. Made from a high-quality, PVCu polymer that can handle temperatures up to 60°C, Altro Whiterock White meets all current European Union (EU) Directives on health and hygiene.
Carole says: “The project was a great success, but of course the real measure is how the children feel about their new hydrotherapy pool. The open day when the new pool was unveiled was a very special and emotional occasion. The pupils were so excited and delighted and it made us all realise how much of a positive difference the new facility will make to their lives.
“I was very impressed with the professional attitude of everyone involved in this project. Altro responded to our needs immediately, got involved and were as passionate as we were about creating the best possible result and the right solution for the wonderful children at Vranch House. The installers and contractors were also very professional.”
Tom Warren, Project Manager at Vranch House, says: “The new hydrotherapy pool has brought another dimension to life for pupils at Vranch House - everyone who uses it, both students and staff, are thrilled.
“It has gone from being a pool that was vulnerable to the elements and difficult to maintain, to a fantastic place that pupils get very excited about. It’s a focal point of the school now and often central to therapy activities. It’s constantly in demand, and can have a very powerful influence; children we might rarely get a response from open up like never before when they are in the pool. It’s quite magical.
“The wall sheet is the perfect screen for projecting all manner of shapes and light, and we can display rotating pictures and shapes, or continuously change the wall colours to bold or subtle shades, depending on the pupil’s needs.
“Cleaning has been very easy. The Altro Whiterock looks as good as the day it was installed.”
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