Level access showers

There may be modifications you can make to your shower or bath to make them easier to use. Depending on your situation, Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People may be able to help with funding for these modifications.

Examples of modifications Whaikaha may fund

  • using a bath board, transfer bench or swivel seat
  • installing grab rails
  • removing the shower doors to provide more space
  • installing a hand-held shower
  • installing a level access shower.

What is a level access shower?

A level access shower is also known as a wet area shower. The floor of a level access shower is level with the bathroom floor so it is easier for a person with a disability to get in and out of the shower. The shower area is designed so that a person is able to either sit on a shower chair or lie down on a shower bed when showering.

The shower floor area is usually at least 1200 millimetres x 1200 millimetres. This is a large enough area to slope the floor so that the water can flow to a drain in the centre of the shower area. There are usually only two walls, and a hand-held shower rose is mounted on a sliding rail to make it easier to move up and down.

Is a level access shower the best option for you?

A level access shower can support your independence. It can make bathing easier and safer for you and the people who support you.

To get a bathroom that works well for you, you need to think about how you get around, what your needs are and what your home is like.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will there be enough space to move around safely in your bathroom if a level access shower is installed? If you have a separate toilet next to your bathroom, you may have to think about removing the wall between the two rooms to make a bigger space in the bathroom.
  • If you have more than one bathroom, which one is the most practical and cost-effective to modify?
  • Are there any windows, doors, electric wiring and items like toilets, baths or vanity units, or water and sewerage pipes that will need to be moved?
  • Will you need to replace a toilet, vanity or bath with new items?
  • Will you need to replace any floorboards or upgrade the electrical wiring, plumbing or the hot water cylinder?
  • Will a level access shower affect other people who live in your home (for example, if you need to remove a bath in order to install the shower)?
  • Do you need to either sit or lie down when showering? If you need to use a shower chair with a tilting seat or a fold-down shower bed, your shower will need to be larger to have space for these things.
  • Do you need somebody to assist you to have a shower or bath? If you install a level access shower in your bathroom, it may mean that you may be able to shower without any assistance.
  • How long will you be living in your current home? Could your needs and circumstances change over the next two to three years?

Building and material considerations

  • You must get a building consent to install a level access shower. 
  • Council regulations require a ‘temperature reducing valve’ to be fitted with shower modifications. Installing this valve on an older-style hot water cylinder may lower the water pressure throughout the house.
  • Level access showers usually have vinyl floors. Tiles are not as slip-resistant as vinyl, are more expensive and need ongoing regular maintenance.
  • The floor area for a level access shower is based on your disability needs, such as whether you need a special commode chair, a fold-down bench to lie on or extra room for carers to help you.

Installing a level access shower can be a major renovation in your home. It can be expensive and disruptive. Sometimes modifying your bathroom may not be the best or only option for you. For example, if modifying your home is not an option, you may be able to find another home that suits your needs better.

Getting modifications to your bathroom

Contact a Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People Equipment and Modification Service (EMS) qualified housing assessor to help you work out what modifications you need for your bathroom. They will help you work out the most cost-effective option for your needs and if you can get funding from the Ministry.

Your doctor can refer you to an EMS qualified housing assessor or you can refer yourself through local hospital community health services. 

You may also choose to organise and pay for modifications to your bathroom yourself. 

Find out about what home modifications we can fund.

What is not covered by funding

Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People funding does not cover costs for:

  • heating and ventilation within the bathroom
  • hot water cylinders
  • extra storage or cupboards within the bathroom (however, where a cupboard or vanity has to be removed to install a level access shower, funding may be available to replace it)
  • re-installing a bath that has been removed to put in a level access showerfloor tiles in the bathroom area
  • any renovation work or improvements that are required before the funded modification can begin or be completed, for example, for water-damaged wall linings that need repairing before a new shower can be put in place.

Find out more about level access showers if you live: