The issue of bathroom accessibility is essential for those with mobility challenges, the elderly, or people recovering from injuries. Being able to use the bathroom with a minimal amount of struggle provides dignity as well as convenience, but what are the options and which is best to use?

For those unable to use a standard bath or shower room, the two main options are level access showers and bath lifts. In this article, we take a comprehensive look at each so you can make an informed choice.

Level Access Showers

As the name suggests, a level access shower is one where the shower base is level with the floor, meaning there’s no need to step up to access the shower. Also known as ‘wet rooms’, a level access shower provides easy entry and exit from the shower and is ideal for wheelchair users.

Changing a bathroom to a level access shower room can be a significant alteration to the home, and will involve the removal of the bath, plus the installation of a new floor. 

Depending on the size of your level access shower project, installation can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks, though the latter time is usually only needed if there’s a requirement for a complete refurbishment ( for example new wall and floor covering).

The finished level access shower room will be designed with your sensibilities in mind, with aesthetics given priority alongside accessibility. A level access shower doesn’t need to look or feel ‘clinical’, but is often a warm and inviting space that’s very enjoyable to spend time in.

Level access showers

Level Access Showers – The Pros and Cons


  • Safety – Level access showers are generally safer, with an extremely easy method of entry and exit. Floor tiles or vinyl are chosen to provide maximum grip and to minimise slipperiness even when wet.
  • Space – The space in a level access shower is typically far greater than in a standard bathroom. With the design tailored to wheelchair users, there is plenty of room to manoeuvre and to allow a second person the space needed to assist, if necessary.
  • Independence – Because level access showers are designed for easy access, they are often perfectly suited for independent use.
  • Additional features – The scope of a level access shower is such that additional features can be installed to suit the needs of the primary user. Grab rails, shower seating, and adjustable or multiple shower heads are all common features that improve the ease of use and comfort of the room.
  • Look – There’s no need for a level access shower to look clinical. Design elements that you favour are easily incorporated, with a full range of colour and style options available.


  • May require extensive renovation – Changing a bathroom or other space into a level access shower may be a significant construction undertaking.
  • Cost – When compared to bath lifts, a level access shower is typically the more expensive option.
  • Removal of bath – A level shower room does not provide any facility for a bath, and bathrooms that are converted will typically have the bath removed to allow for the extra space. Some people prefer a bath to a shower, and if the bathroom is shared with family, it may be that the loss of the bath is unwanted.

Bath Lifts

A bath lift is a hoist that lifts someone with mobility difficulties into (and out of) the existing bath. There is a wide range of bath lift types to suit budget, need, and personal preference. While bath lifts provide significant additional support for those looking to get into and out of a bath, they may not completely alleviate the need for assistance in quite the same way as a level access shower.

Unlike a level access shower room, fitting a bath lift is a relatively simple operation that can typically be done in a single day.

Level Access Shower Vs Bath Lift

Bath Lifts – The Pros and Cons


  • Cost – A bath lift is a more cost-effective option than a level access shower.
  • Simplicity of installation – Bath lifts are far easier to fit than the possible complete refurbishment of a bathroom.
  • Comfort – For many, especially those with pain-related access needs, bathing can be much easier on the body. You don’t have to stand, and being submerged in warm water is relaxing.
  • No loss of bath – Obviously, a bath lift doesn’t mean losing your bath; in fact, for many it provides access once more to a bath that’s been long out of bounds. For many, it’s possible to have a bath lift and still have use of a shower.


  • Not suitable for all – Bath lifts do require a greater level of mobility than level access showers and may not be suitable to your needs.
  • Less independence – For some, help is still needed to use a bath lift.
  • Safety – Bath lifts are not generally as safe as level access showers.
  • Power issues – Bath lifts are typically battery powered, so it is essential that they are charged prior to use.
  • Water consumption – A bath uses more water than a shower. If you have a water meter, this can mean larger bills.
  • May need later replacement – If mobility deteriorates further, you may later need to move to a level access shower.

Level Access Shower vs. Bath Lift – Choosing the Right Option

When thinking about which is best for you, it’s important to consider the following:

Your Personal Preferences

Right at the top of the list are your personal requirements – don’t let anyone tell you what you need or would prefer if you feel differently. Consider your desire as a top priority!

Your Mobility Level

Of course, your mobility level is a limiting factor, so be sensible here.

Cost is an essential part of any purchase. There’s lots of advice available to find out if your level access shower or bath lift could be funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant. You can read more about the DFG here.

Future Needs

Consider how your situation may develop in the years to come – you don’t want to be doing this twice. This is especially true when thinking about additional features such as grab rails; it’s always good to be prepared.


The space you have for any sort of bathroom conversion, plus the layout of existing rooms, is going to affect what’s possible.

Permanent or Temporary

Consider if what you need is a permanent solution for long-term access needs, or a temporary fix for a current injury.

Tips for Bathroom Safety and Accessibility

You might not be ready or need to consider a level access shower or bath lift, but there are still plenty of options that could be valuable to keep your bathroom safe and easy to use for those with mobility issues. Consider:

  • Shower curtains vs. doors – Want to know more about this issue? Read our article here.
  • Grab rails – An essential for bathrooms, no matter your age or mobility needs.
  • Non-slip flooring – Like grab rails, having a safe floor designed for wet areas isn’t just for those with long-term issues.
  • Lighting – Mood lighting may look great while you’re relaxing in the bath, but you need to be able to light up the room fully when needed.
  • Lever taps – Far easier to use and perfect for people with arthritis or other dexterity issues.
  • Shower thermostats – Having proper control of your shower is a must, as scalding is a real issue.

Help and Advice from John Ford Group

At the John Ford Group, we’ve been doing this for a very long time. For some friendly expert advice, why not give us a call and let us help you through the various options?