Sample on Recreation Facility Audit: Long Stratton Leisure Centre

Recreation Facility Audit: Long Stratton Leisure Centre

Introduction

Consideration for people with disabilities in building and facility planning has been a requirement in the federal construction policy. In New South Wales, the New South Wales Disability Inclusion Act of 2014 (DIA) is the main policy that emphasizes the consideration of the disabled in the design of facilities and regulations. Based on the act, facilities as well as any well-meaning government organizations have to make their standing towards inclusivity clear enough to enable access to premises and services. The Long Stratton Leisure Centre located in South Norfolk is one of the facilities in which the consideration of inclusivity is important yet there has been a limited effort towards improving accessibility of the center to the disabled or even funding or providing service to the disabled. A virtual visit was carried out to the Lang Stratton Leisure Center with the objective of auditing the compliance of the center with the DIA requirements. The center is yet to indicate any signs of progress towards inclusivity consideration for the disabled since there is no indication of services targeting the disabled, there is restricted access due to the facility layout, and no significant details about the dementia center that is portrayed to be operational are provided.

Overview and Location of Service

The Long Stratton Leisure Center is located in the South Norfolk council, along Swan Lane and almost directly opposite the South Norfolk Council offices. It can be accessed directly from Swan Lane and is close to the road. The Center is operated as one of the services of the South Norfolk Council and provides a wide range of services to the community. The center boasts an 80 station gym with various functional areas including a fitness rig and a functional sprint track. It also has two fitness studios, a bananas soft play area, a café, a four-court sports hall, and a floodlit pitch with 3G artificial grass. In these facilities, the center offers various specific services including children’s activities such as parties and kids’ camps, personal training, free gym induction as well as fitness programs, private hire, flexible pitch hire, pay-as-you-go options, and a dementia-friendly center among others. Each of these services can be accessed by choice. The offices of the center are opened from 0630 hr to 2200 hr on Monday to Friday; 0830 hr 1800 hr on Saturdays and Sundays; and from 1000 to 1800 hr on bank holidays (South Norfolk Council, 2020). The facility accepts admissions from 13 years of age onwards and at least 30 minutes before close every day.

Funding

The facility operates as a for-profit organization affiliated with the government. Besides the subscription services for a variety of activities, the support from the council also contributes to the benefits, especially for services provided for free. According to South Norfolk Council (2020), the center uses a direct debit payment process in which the potential members register with the facility and the subscriptions are automatically renewed at the right time. The members have the choice of ending subscriptions when deemed necessary.

Disability Coverage

For now, the only service offered for the disabled is the dementia center. However, sufficient details are unavailable for the specific scope of activities provided under this service. Other forms of service targeting the disabled are not available at the facility. The conditions associated with registration to the dementia center are not provided.

What is it?

In the audit, there was a focus on the physically disabled. This included those with a range of physical impairments resulting in activity and participation limitations. These include individuals with mobility impairment (those using wheelchairs and various walking aids); the visually impaired; and the hearing impaired.

Physical, Emotional and Cognitive Requirements for the Disabled

The most widespread requirement when addressing the emotional needs of people with disabilities is to consider the people-first principle, which states that individuals should not be described using their disabilities. Instead, they should be referred to first as people (Bullock & Mahon, 2017). The cognitive requirements depend on the range of activities that need to participate in, and should also be considered when offering services and support in the various recreational activities in which they can participate in the Long Stratton Leisure Center.  Physical requirements depend on the type of disability. For instance, those with mobility impairments require adequate spaces for movement, hence the need for the passageways, doorways, and corridors to be wider at the Long Stratton Leisure Centre. They also need open spaces with no obstruction; therefore, the presence of the chairs and tables for the café on the ground floor of the center and the stairs would be obstructions to their movement. In conventional building standards, it is required that these conditions be satisfied in order for inclusion to be attained for people with disabilities (Bullock & Mahon, 2017). Without such friendly facilities, people with disabilities would not feel welcome to members of the leisure center.

Choice of Condition and Justification

The audit conducted on the facility based on the virtual tour focused on a wide range of disabilities (all in the physical disability realm). The decision to focus on physical disability in this audit was based on the common regulatory objectives. Physical disabilities usually require various measures for accommodation as they limit victims from living an optimum quality of life. Regulatory requirements such as facilitating access to buildings, enhancing space for movement, and providing supporting signage all focus on the inclusion of those who are physically impaired (Bullock & Mahon, 2017). Additionally, those with cognitive impairments are in most cases capable of engaging in most of the activities associated with recreation, unlike the physically impaired who need special features to be accommodated, and for whom the management of the center has to provide different recreation resources for support.

Outcome of Audit

The audit was conducted on the site to determine the compliance of the center with the various requirements for disability inclusion based on various factors including the structure and layout of the building, range of services offered and access to those services, and communication regarding the level of support available to the disabled through the center. The following section describes the different outcomes of the audit, indicating areas in which the center needs to improve in order to adhere to the requirements of the DIA.

Accessibility to Building (both internal and external)

The building housing the Long Stratton Leisure Center is accessible directly from the road. The building has a wide walkway that enables even those suffering from impaired mobility and those using walking aids as well as the can be able to move freely and access the building.  The even floors on the walkways external to the building also imply that the vision impaired can access the building easily. Internally, however, the building has various constraints that limit access to people with a broad range of disabilities. First, all the passages within the building are relatively narrow, which can constrain the movements of those who are disabled such as those who use walking aids and wheelchairs. It should be considered that the facility does not only provide fitness services that can be used by those who are not disabled but also provides services such as the general hall for hire, which may require the disabled to come in. The floors are not sufficiently spacious considering that the café is located on the ground floor and people pass through the café while going to other areas. Additionally, there are erected blocks close to the reception, which constrict the passageway further, preventing access to the disabled. Other factors that limit internal accessibility include the lack of a disabled ramp for movement to the upper floors and the locations of the fitness stations in the gym. Addressing these issues requires various changes in the internal design and layout of the building. The DIA requires that all facilities should have access for the disabled, including ramps and parking areas.

Access to Services

The description of services given on the center’s website does not indicate any specific services that would be accessed by the disabled. Furthermore, most of the major services offered within the center are located on the upper floors, requiring the users to use stairs. The location of most of the services, access limitations, and lack of communication on services offered to the disabled, limited disabled access to services.

Access to Website

The activities of the center can be seen on the South Norfolk Council website at https://www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/visitors/leisure-centres/long-stratton-leisure-centre. Descriptions of the different services are provided, as well as links for registration. Links are also provided for the activity timetable, so potential users can find all information they need about the center and the services it offers from that website. The registration link gives an interactive platform through which willing clients can register.

Usability of Physical Resources Reducing Barriers

From the range of services offered and the accessibility constraints to the center’s website, it is evident that there are visible barriers to the inclusion of the disabled.

Recommendations to reducing barriers

For Long Stratton Leisure Center, the main recommendation would be an improvement of the physical characteristics of the center to reduce access barriers to the disabled. This can be done based on reference to Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010. The standards clearly indicate the specific sizes of different areas, provisions of access ramps for the movement of people with disabilities to upper floors, wide spaces for maneuver, accessible washrooms and taps, and signage positioned strategically for the hearing impaired (Federal Register of Legislations, 2020). By transforming the facility to be physically accessible to people with disabilities, the leisure center will have made the first step towards the inclusion of people with disabilities according to DIA.

It is also recommended that upon completion of the physical modifications of the facility, Long Stratton leisure Center should deliberately communicate to the people with disabilities. The communication should be clear through the website as well as on-site posters and flyers, indicating the range of activities those with disabilities can engage in and the kind of support they can gain from the facility management. In this way, the people with disabilities can feel included holistically, both through explicit expression and through enhanced accessibility of the facility.

Conclusion

People with disabilities often face significant challenges when accessing or using recreation facilities. However, leisure facilities such as Long Stratton Leisure Centre can comply with various government requirements to enhance access to facilities and services of the center. For the audit performed, Long Stratton Leisure Centre still has to do a lot in order to adhere to the DIA requirements. The recommendations given are that the facility management should refer to the national regulations on disabled access in construction and communicate effectively on the services offered to the disabled.

Best Practice for people with physical disabilities to access and utilize the services of Long Stratton Leisure Center, South Norfolk Council

The facility provides good reaction services for the general population. Both externally and internally, the facility looks well-kempt and is visually appealing. The virtual visit was aimed at conducting an audit on the effectiveness of the physical features of the center for accessibility and services to people with disabilities. The focus of the audit was on support features for people with physical disabilities such as vision impairment, hearing impairment, and mobility impairment. The audit was performed to examine the extent of fit between Long Stratton Leisure Centre and the requirements for inclusion and access as outlined in the Disability Inclusion Act of 2010.

While a physical visit to the facility would have required adherence to various precautions, the virtual visit did not have any. However, it was necessary to adhere to ethical requirements for such activity by avoiding biased or presumptuous reporting so that the recommendations made can be warranted for facility improvement.

The audit was conducted in line with various existing literature on the needs and inclusivity criteria for the disabled. Information on the psychological, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of those who are physically disabled formed the basis of decision making on the need for support and information from the facility and was obtained from Bullock and Mahon (2017). The regulations on construction designs to support access to premises by people who are disabled were used as the basis for the recommendations made as explained by the Federal Register of Legislation (2020). These sources have provided guidelines based on which the audit was conducted.

The audit has shown that the facility still has several gaps particularly in terms of the physical and communication characteristics of the center, showing the need for further action. It is expected that the recommendations made following the audit will help the organization move towards better adherence to the DIA requirements of access and inclusion for people with disabilities. The management should refer to those recommendations in order to adapt the facility to serve the needs of people with disabilities through access and inclusion.

References

Bullock, C. C., & Mahon, M. J. (2017). Introduction to recreation services for people with disabilities: A person-centered approach, 4th Ed. Urbana, IR: Sagamore Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.sagamorepub.com/sites/default/files/2018-07/newintrorec-look-inside-OPT.pdf

Federal Register of Legislation (2020). Disability (access to premises- buildings) standards 2010. Australian Government. Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2010L00668

South Norfolk Council. (2020). Long Stratton Leisure Centre. Retrieved from https://www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/visitors/leisure-centres/long-strat

Appendix: Organisation Audit

Service Being Assessed:  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Accessibility and Support Services for People with Physical Disabilities

Location: Long Stratton Leisure Centre

Transport Access: via Swan Lane

Date of Assessment: May 2020

Yes No

 

Is there adequate signage provided at the venue?

 

No
Is the entrance to the building accessible?

 

Yes
Is there enough parking for people with a disability?

 

No
Are there enough toilets for people with a disability?

 

No
Are the toilets open?

 

No
Is there adequate seating available for a person with a disability?

 

No
Is there an augmented system for people with hearing impairments?

 

No
Are there flyers available for all people with a disability?

 

No
Are the change rooms adequate for a person with a disability?

 

No
Can a person with a disability access the activity on their own with no help?

 

No
Can a person with a disability get in and out of the pool themselves?

 

Yes
Are the forms of communication used at the venue appropriate for a person with a disability?

 

No
Are there slip resistant floors at the venue?  

 

No
Are there handrails available?  

 

Yes
Is there a designated shower venue cubicle for a person with a disability?  

 

No
Are tap handles accessible for all people?  

 

No
Is there a continuous path of travel and sufficient space provided for a person with a disability and a friend to access and seating requirements?  

 

No
Can the person with a disability access the café?  

 

Yes
Can a person with a disability access all the programs at the venue?  

 

No
Are there any special groups run solely for people with a disability?  

 

No