Samantha Ottevanger is angry and sad that the three pools of Lunet Zorg in the Eindhoven region will disappear. She has muscular dystrophy and autism and therefore lives in the care facility. Every week she went swimming to keep her muscles flexible and to relieve the pain in her legs.
At the end of May it became clear that Lunet Zorg wants to close all three adapted swimming pools. “We investigated beforehand whether a closure was really necessary. That turned out to be the case”, a spokesperson says. The adjustments that need to be made are expensive and the care institution does not have that money.
Samantha and her fellow residents heard the news through a newspaper article. Samantha: “When we heard that, we really exploded. We’re just really angry”. With tears in her eyes, she talks about the pain she is experiencing extra now. “For me, it means I’m just deteriorating even more because I’m not moving enough”.
Not for fun
Every Tuesday, her mother Hennie van Schooten would go swimming with her. She says, “They think it’s all for fun, but you just see the people in the pool relax. They are otherwise completely tight with cramps or spasms. That goes for my daughter, too”.
For Samantha, it’s not a solution to, for example, take the modified bike she will soon get more often. “With swimming, I’m moving around, but without putting too much strain on my body”. Nor is it an option to move to another swimming pool. Hennie van Schooten: “In those pools they don’t have what’s necessary for Samantha as elevators and high-low floors. In addition, there have also been cuts in transport. People just have to take public transport”.
Lunet Zorg has now postponed the final decision to close the pools. The decision was already made before the care institution received 500 signatures from concerned family members of the clients. And also the Eindhoven Sports Council (Sportraad) protested.
For the care institution there are many financial challenges to keep the pools open as the necessary refurbishment of the pools, rising energy prices and environmental requirements. Also, the swimming by the clients falls under recreational swimming which since 2012 due to new legislation is no longer reimbursed by the state.
Samantha’s mother says: “Since she doesn’t swim anymore she says much more often: my feet or my legs hurt so much or I just don’t know how to lie in my bed anymore”. She therefore finds it ridiculous that visiting the pool is considered recreational. Samantha herself doesn’t understand either: “We obviously don’t live here for our sweaty feet”.
Translated by: Bob