Aquatic Lifts

Making your pool accessible

by Kathy Wechsler on May 1, 2006 - 3:20pm

QUEST Vol. 13, No. 3
The Splash Aquatic Lift
The Splash! Aquatic Lift from RMT Aquatics is a battery-powered lifting system that attaches to the deck. It’s designed for swimming facilities, but can also be used for residential pools.

In “Give Me a Lift” (“As the Wheel Turns,” March-April), Quest covered choosing the best type of lift to make transferring in your home safe for you and your caregiver. But what about transfers into the pool for swim therapy or recreation?

Each type of aquatic lift is designed for a specific situation, says Donald A. Krebs, president and founder of Access to Recreation in Newbury Park, Calif., a nationwide distributor of recreational equipment for people with disabilities.

The companies listed in “Aquatic Lift Resources,” manufacture and distribute pool lifts for recreational, rehabilitation and residential facilities.

Aquatic lifts range in price from $1,100 to $6,000. When shopping for an aquatic lift, there are some important factors to consider, in addition to cost.

How will it be used?

Krebs, who uses a wheelchair and has a Splash! Aquatic Lift from RMT Aquatics to transfer himself into his spa, says it’s important to consider how you’re going to get in and out of the lift and whether or not you want to use it independently.

If the lift is for a public pool, it must meet ADA regulations, meaning that it’s self-operable and self-turning, so it doesn’t require help from an attendant. It should also have a hard seat with slip-up armrests and a footrest.

The Surehands motorized wheelchair to water pool lift
With the SureHands motorized Wheelchair-to-Water Pool Lift, the user can be raised from the wheelchair with the power of the lifting motor and manually rotated until the user is over the water.

When it’s your own pool, you have more options and can choose the type of seating. Many people prefer a hard seat because they feel more secure, especially when it comes with a seat belt. If you’re unable to transfer, you may like using a mesh sling that you can slip underneath you, then lift yourself out of your wheelchair. SureHands offers a unique Body Support that makes self-transferring or transferring with help simple.

“A lot of the pool lifts [for private use] are not self-turning,” Krebs says. “They lift up and down, but don’t do an automatic turn. Ones that do the automatic turns are the more expensive ones.”

If you want to move through the water while you’re in the lift (for physical therapy), a ceiling lift, which can be mounted on a free-standing system or ceiling, may be the way to go.

How should it be powered?

You also need to decide how you want to power the lift, Krebs says. It can be manual, hydraulic, or water- or battery-powered.

Battery-powered aquatic lifts are run by a rechargeable battery and a waterproof hand control. These lifts are easy to use but require you to replace the battery every one to three years, at a cost of $100 or more.

Popular because they’re less expensive, hydraulic pool lifts are operated with pumps. The downside of hydraulic lifts is that you need to have somebody doing the pumping. Water-powered lifts are easy to use and less expensive than battery-powered lifts. You just hook up a garden hose to the lift.

The Aqua Creek Lift
The Aqua Creek Products’ Pro Pool Lift can be made portable by incorporating the portable kit.

Krebs warns that those considering water-powered lifts should find out whether their water pressure, from the city or a well, is adequate to power the lift.

What type of pool do I have?

Companies make battery-powered and water-powered lifts for both above-ground and in-ground pools. Although some lifts are made specifically for in-ground pools and others to be used with above-ground pools or spas, some lifts can be used in all three situations.

But generally lifts are designed to work with certain types of pools or spas, Krebs says. “One’s designed to go up and over a wall, and one’s designed to go out over the water and down in, and then reverse to get you back out.”

Do I want it installed?

You may decide to have your aquatic lift permanently installed in your deck by a professional. This is the most cost-efficient way to go, but the lift is in place year-round.

To keep your deck free from clutter when the lift isn’t in use, you can have a lift installed that can be removed by lifting the pole out of the anchor. One warning: They can be heavy.

Or you can buy a portable aquatic lift to transport to the pool’s edge and lock the wheels for your transfer. Portable lifts are the most expensive.

Access to Recreation
(800) 634-4351

Access Unlimited
(800) 849-2143

\Aqua Creek Products
(888) 687–3552

Aquatic Access
(800) 325-5438

Horcher Lifting Systems
(800) 582-8732

RMT Aquatics
(800) 577-4424

Spectrum Products
(800) 776-5309

Sunrise Medical
(800) 333-4000

Sure Hands Lift & Care Systems
(800) 724-5305

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
MDA cannot respond to questions asked in the comments field. For help with questions, contact your local MDA office or clinic or email See comment policy