Swim England

A nation swimming

Water Wellbeing pools create community capacity for health and wellbeing

The Water Wellbeing programme, run by Swim England, has reached a landmark figure of 150 accredited pools across the country.

So far, more than 20,000 hours of community capacity have been created, due to opportunities to participate in activities such as adult learn to swim, quiet swims, dementia friendly swimming, Good Boost rehabilitation, aqua-natal sessions, and lots more.

With the launch of Swim England’s new 10-year strategic vision, Access Aquatics, earlier this year, the national governing body’s intention to continue to expand the number of sites who achieve Water Wellbeing accreditation is picking up pace.

More and more facilities throughout the country are working through the accreditation process, with more focus being placed on improving health and wellbeing in local communities.

LiveWire Warrington were amongst some of the first operators to receive Water Wellbeing accreditation in November 2022 at two of their sites – Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub and Bewsey and Dallam Community Hub.

Both sites were built with a dementia friendly design, making both venues more accessible to anyone with a disability or long-term health condition.

Between both sites, there are now 28 regular weekly swim sessions to choose from. These include accessible swims, aqua relax, aqua splash, quiet swims, SEND lessons and SEND school swimming sessions, through to Good Boost aquatic rehabilitation sessions.

Accessible to all

Catriona Welch, activities and development lead at LiveWire Warrington, said: “LiveWire are proud to have two of the first Water Wellbeing accredited pools in the country, which upholds our commitment to provide safe and accessible environments within our facilities, and placing the customers at the heart of everything we do.

“Both our hubs at Great Sankey and Bewsey and Dallam have been designed to enable people with long-term health conditions to be able to access activities they enjoy and that cater for their health and wellbeing needs.”

Bewsey and Dallam Community Hub also has a warmer hydrotherapy pool, which has attracted attention from a range of people with health conditions, as well as helping to spawn a number of new initiatives with local delivery partnerships.

In May 2023, the NHS physiotherapy team from Warrington Hospital started a new rehabilitation session at the hub.

This has been well received and many of those attending have been referred due to musculoskeletal or rheumatology related health conditions.

Jill Willerton, Warrington hospital’s rheumatology physiotherapist lead, said: “This private supported session at Bewsey and Dallam Hub allows patients who have received one to one hydrotherapy treatment with an aquatic physiotherapist, to continue their recovery journey independently.

“At the session, the participants can practice their personal exercise programme, meet others with health conditions and gain confidence to go on to attend the pool independently.

“The set-up at the hub is brilliant, it’s accessible to all with excellent changing facilities, it’s peaceful and importantly the pool is warm!

“The participants have been keen to try the Good Boost technology once they feel more confident and a number have gone on to join as members and continue to use this independently.”

Enthusiasm and effort of the sector

Andrew Power, water wellbeing specialist at Swim England, added: “Examples like this are springing up across the country as a result of the enthusiasm and effort of the sector to support local people to improve their health and wellbeing, with new healthcare partnerships being created and new opportunities for individuals to benefit from personalised aquatic opportunities becoming the norm.

“Working through the accreditation process with LiveWire, it was clear that the organisation was committed to this agenda and it is fantastic to see how much provision has been created, alongside their regular aquatic programme.

“Not only their provision, but their facilities are also outstanding and are a model to follow for other pool operators.”

The Water Wellbeing accreditation scheme is open to any pool and offers a range of resources, training and support to help staff better understand the customer experience, as well as personalise the aquatic offer to suit the needs of those with long-term health conditions.

For more information on Water Wellbeing or other aspects of Swim England’s health and wellbeing work, get in touch at health@swimming.org.