Designing Hydrotherapy Pools for Domestic Use

Ensuring designs suit the users’ needs and the environment is vital when specifying care equipment. Hydrotherapy pools are becoming more popular in rehabilitation centres, SEN schools, and private residences thanks to the proven health benefits.

Each of these environments will require a slightly different hydrotherapy pool design. In this guide we cover five key design considerations for hydrotherapy pools for domestic use in someone’s home:

1)    What size should a home hydrotherapy pool be?

All hydrotherapy pools must have at least 2.7m2 space per person.

It’s highly unlikely that a home hydrotherapy pool will be used by just one person. Typically, it is individuals with life-changing injuries and disabilities who have hydro pools installed at home. They use the pool as part of their long-term rehabilitation or physical therapy plan.

So, the smallest size for a domestic hydrotherapy pool is 5.4m2. That gives enough room for two people – one user and one therapist.

However, in a family home, people often want the pool to be suitable for both therapeutic and recreational use. In this case, you’ll need a much bigger pool design!

Maximum number of users Minimum pool size
2 people 5.4m2
3 people 8.1 m2
4 people 10.8 m2
5 people 13.5 m2
6 people 16.2 m2

Remember, a bigger pool needs a bigger pool room

Opting for a larger hydrotherapy pool is a great idea for many families. It enhances quality of life for the family member(s) living with disabilities or a long-term condition. But it’s also providing something fun for everyone to enjoy.

There are a couple of things to consider before you go for a full Olympic-sized design though!

The size of the hydrotherapy pool determines the…

Basically, the bigger the pool the bigger everything else. This will increase construction costs. Plus, it’s not always practical if you’re installing a pool into an existing home rather than a new build.

If cost or space is an issue, we’d recommend going for a more compact design.

2)     Are there building regulations for domestic hydrotherapy pools?

When designing a home hydrotherapy pool, you can work to domestic building regulations rather than commercial ones.

For some aspects of the design – like the pool size – this doesn’t make a difference. But it does give more flexibility and options in other areas.

For example, you can have a slightly smaller plant room than you’d need for the same sized pool in a commercial setting.

Speaking of filtration, you can also choose between a skimmer design or an overflow design to filter the pool. An overflow design is required for commercial hydrotherapy pools.

Skimmer pools

The water sits slightly below the pool’s edge, leaving a several inch gap. Between two and four skimmer devices are then placed around the edge of the pool. They draw in water from the pool and feed it into the filtration system. It is then pumped back into the pool.

Overflow pools

The water sits level with the edge of the pool. For filtration, the water ‘overflows’ into drainage channels all around the pool’s edge. These channels then drain into a balance tank. The water then enters the main filtration system before being pumped back into the pool.

Overflow hydrotherapy pool design example
This is an overflow pool – you can see the water comes right to the top, and there are drains around all four sides.

Which is better for domestic use?

An overflow design is a bit more efficient. But a skimmer design doesn’t need a separate balancing tank and is cheaper and quicker to construct. That makes it a nice option to have if you’re working to a tighter budget.

3)     What can I do to reduce maintenance costs?

Often, families choose to install a hydrotherapy pool at home after receiving an insurance payout. Whilst this funding will cover the pool’s design and construction, it won’t always cover the ongoing maintenance.

To reduce pool maintenance costs, we always recommend a stainless-steel hydrotherapy pool.

Stainless-steel is corrosion resistant and there are no tiles to painstakingly clean and re-grout. Long-term this saves a lot of time and money.

As a bonus, stainless-steel looks great and is infection control friendly. We’ve actually got a whole article on the benefits of stainless-steel hydrotherapy pools!

4)     How do I make the pool fully accessible?

The great thing about designing hydrotherapy pools for domestic use is you’re less restricted by generic accessibility guidelines. You can focus on making sure the pool is right for your family rather than all possible user groups.

For example, commercial hydrotherapy pools must have 2m access on both sides of the pool. If you don’t need that much manoeuvring room, you can leave less space.

Of course, you always want to maximise access. But having fewer fixed guidelines helps on home projects where there’s less space and fewer resources available.

We recommend discussing the primary pool user’s strengths and challenges with their care team, then working to create a design that best suits them.

If the primary user will be hoisted into the pool, then you also have more options for access steps.

Usually, a hydrotherapy pool will have a full set of fixed steps. However, if that access point will only be used by able-bodied family members, you could just add a ladder, like in public swimming pools, instead. This is another way you can save money and cut down on construction time.

5)     Which add-ons should I choose?

Once you’ve chosen your basic pool type, size, and room layout, it’s time for the fun part! There are lots of add-ons for hydrotherapy pools.

As standard, a pool will usually have therapy jets, lights, and handrails. These are key features included for accessibility and sensory stimulation in any environment.

In a home setting, you might also want to include a lounge area. This allows the rest of the family to relax whilst one person exercises. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even get massage beds!

Water cannons and against-the-current jets are also popular for families who want to add some fun features for children.

One thing we’d always recommend is a safety cover. If someone falls into the pool, these covers stop them from falling into the water. It’s a simple way to get peace of mind that the whole family will be safe around the pool.

Summary

These design tips cover some extra considerations you might want to make for home hydrotherapy pools. Size, building regulations, maintenance costs, accessibility and add-ons are all a little bit different in a domestic setting. It’s key that the pool meets the entire family’s needs.

For more tips on hydrotherapy pool design for other settings, check out these guides:

Designing hydrotherapy pools for SEN Schools

Five things to consider for all hydrotherapy pool projects

Want more advice on home hydrotherapy pools?