Special school boosted by Ergolet mobility system
Danish mobility company Ergolet has installed its Luna overhead hoisting system, featuring the unique wall-mounted E-track, at Kingfisher Community Special School in Oldham to significantly improve pupils’ access to facilities throughout the building.
The installation – the first of its kind at a UK special school – was part of a multi-million pound refurbishment programme at the school, designed to ensure that children with complex and severe mobility needs have the best access to specialist learning environments.
A total of 18 rooms at the school, including classrooms, toilets and a hydrotherapy pool and changing areas, were fitted with the system. The E-track and Luna system covers the full length and breadth of each room allowing the most severely disabled, who are usually reliant on floor hoists or fixed-track overhead systems, to reach all corners of the room.
The E-tracks are fitted on opposite walls along the length of each room, a traverse track is fitted to the E-track to span the width of the room, and the Luna lifting unit is connected to the traverse rail. The flexibility of the system allows the Luna ‘pod’ to be transferred simply, easily and quickly from one room, or system, to another.
A hand-held remote control device controls lifting and lowering, while carers at the school can assist with movement around the room.
The installation in the hydrotherapy pool suite is discreet and ideal for disabled access in public swimming pool complexes. The portability of the Luna lifting unit and wall-mounted tracking means unsightly and space intensive mobility equipment does not have to be a permanent feature poolside.
Fitted just below ceiling height, the E-Wall track is discrete and the entire mobility system blends into the room. Unlike fixed ceiling tracks, the layout of furniture can be altered with the changing needs of the user, which was of paramount importance in a learning environment.
Ergolet’s David Lomas said his company won the contract based on the ease of installation, use and cost effectiveness of the system. He said: “We were contacted by the school at a late stage because the planned traditional installation of overhead hoists was proving to be more difficult and costly than anticipated.
“The original buildings date back to the 70s so to make the use of overhead hoists work together with the old building and the new build project, it would have been necessary to install additional cumbersome and costly steel beams. By using E-track, installation time can be reduced by 70%, giving a real cost saving”.
The installation of the wall-mounted E-track and Luna lifting systems was the first of its kind at a special school in the UK. In the hydrotherapy pool building, for example, the versatility of the wall-mounted E-track means the pupils can be transferred directly from changing room to poolside and, when not in use, the Luna pods can be removed completely.
This capability can have additional benefits when being used in a public swimming pool environment, where lifting hoists and equipment permanently situated at poolside can be unsightly and cumbersome.
Cath Croke, Moving and Handling Manager at the school said the installation had made a significant difference to both pupils and staff. She said: “It has certainly made the quality of life so much better for those pupils with more severe mobility issues.
“Floor mounted mobile hoists aren’t suitable in soft play areas, for example, so this system literally means that all pupils, whatever their mobility issues, have the opportunity to access all the learning environments throughout the school.
“Three point spreaders which have been used here have also made a big difference transferring pupils quickly and safely and make for a more dignified journey than using traditional two point units which can often cause discomfort to pupils.”
David Lomas added: “Since this project, we were asked to install the Luna system including E-track in a brand new trampoline room and changing/toileting area at the Humberstone Special School in Cleethorpes.
“The installation has been so successful that we have been awarded the contract to replace the traditional ceiling mounted mobility equipment throughout the rest of the school as part of a major refurbishment later this year.”