What is the difference between a walk-in shower and a level access shower?

We are often asked what the difference is between the level access showers that we install and a normal walk-in shower. It’s important to understand the difference, as well as the safety advantage of having level access.

impey we care home improvements level access shower wet room
The latest in stylish level access shower wet rooms

Level access means no tray to step over

The classic difference between a walk-in shower and a level access shower is that a walk-in shower has a tray that catches the water whereas a level access shower doesn’t have any tray or lip to step over to get in. The tray itself has been sunk into the waterproofed floor below the shower, allowing the user to just walk straight in.

If you have any questions, you can reach the bathrooms team ‘HERE’

What’s a wet room? It’s the same thing

Level access shower rooms are also known as wet rooms. Many people are concerned about having a wet room because it suggests that the shower itself isn’t enclosed. We’re much more used to seeing showers in their own corner of the room. A lot of our clients ask whether the shower will be discreet, whether the water will splash everywhere, and if it’ll look stylish.

Your wet room is built around you

Your new bathroom being a “wet room” doesn’t mean that the shower won’t have its own defined area within the bathroom. The main showering area where the water is will often be separated from the rest of the bathroom by a screen. There are a variety of designs available so you can choose something that fits in with the bathroom as it is, or suits the style you are going for. The non-slip flooring included is designed in a clever way to let the water run away easily and not pool on the floor. It’s built around you and your needs.

impey we care home improvements stylish wet room
Your shower room – your style

Cleaning a level access shower is a doddle

If you’re looking for a shower room that’s easy to clean and maintain, we can install panels instead of tiles. Not only are panels the latest in modern bathing room fashion, but they also don’t get mouldy like grout. No bleach cleaners required! The same goes for the non-slip flooring. If you find it tough keeping your tiled bathroom walls clean then panels are the way forward.

Stylish showers to suit you

Panels or tiles can come in various styles from simple to luxury finishes. Non-slip safety flooring also comes in a huge range of colours to suit any taste. The days of accessible bathrooms looking clinical are long gone. You can make your wet room look like the bathroom from a boutique hotel!

impey we care home improvements accessible level access shower room
Safety, comfort and style go hand in hand in modern bathrooms

A modern bathing solution that’s safe for all to use

Level access showers are also easier to install in rooms that are tight on space. So if you’re looking to adapt a small downstairs room into an accessible shower room we’d always recommend level access. Likewise, for wheelchair users it is the easiest and safest solution. No need for ramps or negotiating over lips to get in. Carers can also find them a lot easier to use. With movable panels of different sizes you can make the space or gain the access that’s needed.

Minimal disruption – easy to install

Depending on what is required, a full wet room isn’t something that will take a long time to install. Modern shower and wet room systems can be fitted within days instead of weeks, depending on the size of the room and anything else that needs to be adapted or installed to support having a shower in the room. Rest assured that you’ll never be without a working toilet when we leave, or access to the toilet whilst we are working.

Ask us anything

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about level access showers and what is possible in your home. Our friendly knowledgeable bathrooms team will be with you every step of the way.

With over 30 years experience in home improvements, you can trust us to get it right. Call us on 0300 323 0700 or complete the contact form below to arrange an obligation free chat.






    Finding it difficult getting in and out of the bath?

    Woman getting out of the bath

    We see a lot of clients who find it difficult getting in and out of the bath. This could be because of a health condition or just being less mobile than you used to be. Throw water and wet surfaces into the mix and you can have quite a risky situation on your hands. If there is no one else home when you are bathing this can cause even more concern.

    Help with getting in and out of the bath safely

    Happily there are ways we can help you to increase your safety if you’re finding it difficult when getting in and out of the bath. Some examples might be:

    • A simple grab rail on the wall for you to hold onto for support and reassurance.
    • A bathboard that sits over the top of the bath (secured by adjustable brackets) which allows you to sit down whilst transferring your legs into the bath – some people also use this to sit down whilst showering.
    • A bath lift allows you to sit in the water – you transfer onto the seat and transfer your legs into the bath, then you use the electric hand controls to lower the seat into the water and bring you back up once you’re finished.

    The best solution for you will depend on your personal capabilities and your own bathroom layout. For example, a bath lift is not usually suitable for use in a corner bath. Or if you can’t lift your legs, a bathboard won’t help.

    You should give your circumstances some thought before choosing any equipment. Or alternatively give us a call and let us help.

    Bathroom design can make all the difference

    Some people decide to redesign their bathroom. The safest option is usually to remove the bath and install a level access shower. Some are reluctant to change their bathroom as they think it won’t look inviting, but there is a lot of choice available in fixture and fittings.

    Consider a level access shower

    The benefits of a level access shower include:

    • Reducing the risk of falls by not having to clamber over the side of the bath
    • You can walk straight into the shower – there is no step to lift your feet over, which again lowers the risk of having a fall
    • You can have a seat installed so you can sit while you shower yourself. If you experience tiredness, this may save you some vital energy
    • An increase in your independence. You might need a carer to help you have a bath but having a shower may allow you to wash without any help

     

    How We Care Home Improvements can help

    If you’re finding it difficult getting in and out of the bath and would like advice on choosing equipment for the bath, or to find how we can help with adapting your bathroom, you can:

    Give us a call on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

    Request a call back and we will get in touch with you.

    Visit our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our beautiful bathrooms and talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team.

     

     

    About We Care Home Improvements

    We’re a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to improve the homes of older people and those with disabilities. Our aim is for people to live comfortably and independently at home for as long as they choose. We specialise in accessible bathroomshome adaptationshandyperson servicesoccupational therapy and home independence products.

    We Care have been in the home maintenance business for over 30 years and our accessible bathrooms service is Trading Standards Approved. We are an approved supplier to Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire councils, so you can be sure that our work is of a very high standard.

    Your new wet room

    Wet rooms, also known as level access shower rooms, are the trendy modern bathing solution for a designer bathroom that everyone can use.

    Accessible shower wet room bathroom
    A wet room you can be proud of as well as safe in

    Why a wet room?

    It’s our mission to make homes enable access for all. That means that every room of the house needs to be safe to use for whoever is living there. The bathroom can present a few hazards, with things like shower trays and bathtubs to step over. This is why we prefer to install level access showers. They take the stress away from bathing for a stylish looking bathroom that’s safer and easier to clean and maintain. In this article, we will go over the parts that make up a wet room, that we think about carefully when designing your new shower room.

    But where’s the shower tray?

    Wet rooms have a tray that is sunken into the floor below. This means that you access the shower from the floor level rather than having to step over the lip of a tray. This is altogether safer, removing a major barrier to access for people with mobility issues.

    Ideally, the shower tray area would be as large as possible because you don’t want water splashing out to other areas of the bathroom. Safety and ease of use go hand in hand. We will advise you about what is possible in the space that you have. There are also many non-slip flooring options available that minimise any danger posed by water leaving the shower area.

    Shower panels or tiles?

    Tiles have been the style in bathrooms for many years, but recently shower panels have become very popular. Panels keep the shower area watertight; you can still have tiles in the wider room. Our experts will be able to design the wet room in a way that makes everything look seamless.

    You may have one or several panels in the actual shower area with a screen separating it from the room, with up to three of the bathroom walls tiled. You may have a room that is completely panelled. Panels can come in various colours, patterns and effects, like frosted glass style or mirrored. They can match the flooring or contrast, whichever you prefer. The benefit of panels, much like the non-slip flooring, is that they are very easy to clean and maintain versus tiles.

    dementia friendly accessible bathroom wet room
    A dementia friendly accessible bathroom

    Digital, electric or mixer shower?

    A mixer shower has hot and cold water inputs that are mixed in the shower bar. You can set the temperature on the shower’s control panel or by using the taps, depending on the type you have installed. We would also recommend having a thermostatic valve installed – this protects you from sudden temperature changes if someone else uses the water in the house.

    However, you may prefer an electric or digital shower instead. Both electric and digital showers let you start the shower with the water at the right temperature straight away, either by pre-setting the temperature controls on the panel or using a smartphone app with a digital shower.

    Digital showers are usually the easiest to install, with the control unit being installed discreetly in the loft. They are also the most modern and fully featured. Electric showers can be useful where there is low water pressure or for people that want a simpler manual controls option. There are also control options for people who are blind or have different health needs.

    Designed with you in mind

    Whatever your needs, we can work with you to gain the bathroom you desire. From the style and colour to the shower itself, there are options to suit everyone. Our trusted contractors can convert small bathrooms into level access showers, and even convert other rooms such as garages where our customers have need more space or a ground floor accessible bathing solution.

    If you want to have an informal chat about a new accessible bathroom, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help remove the barriers between you and your safety and independence in your own home.






      6 ways to make your bathroom disabled friendly

      Lately, it has become more popular to make your bathroom disabled friendly or more accessible earlier in life rather than later.

      But making your bathroom disabled-friendly doesn’t mean that it’ll look clinical. There are many modern fixtures and fittings that can maximise independence and safety whilst looking stylish. We have experience in designing and installing accessible bathrooms for people living with:

      • Dementia
      • Parkinson’s disease
      • Neuromuscular disease
      • Arthritis
      • Stroke
      • Visual impairments/blindness
      • Reduced mobility

      A personal assessment from an Occupational Therapist (OT) can help identify adaptations that will meet your current and future health needs. However, we can also offer you simple advice on specialist equipment and fixtures to increase your comfort and independence in your bathroom. Here are our top 6 ways for you to make bathing a safer experience, now and in the future.

      1. Install a level access shower

      A level access shower is a type of shower that doesn’t have a step or lip before you enter the showering area. So people with all levels of mobility can enter the shower without fear of tripping. This makes it suitable for children, older people or wheelchair users.

      This is possibly the single biggest adaptation that you can make to your bathroom to make it safer. It gives you easier access to the shower in a self-contained area for showering. You can have full height shower screens to stop the water from splashing to other areas. Carers can easily assist with bathing if necessary, or the screens can have a frosted effect for full privacy.

      disabled friendly bathroom wheelchair user
      Our number one disabled bathroom tip – install a level access shower!

      2. Install grab rails in key locations

      Grab rails are the next most impactful thing you can install in your bathroom to make it disabled-friendly. This is because they allow you to hold onto something for stability, avoiding falls and injuries when bathing. They are also very quick and easy to install.

      Most grab rails are made from tough moulded plastic or stainless steel. They can be positioned next to the toilet, in the shower, or on and near to the bath. This gives you something to hold on to when making any difficult movements or when you need help with balancing. Wheelchair users can even use them to help with transferring onto a toilet or bath/shower board.

      grab rails disabled friendly bathroom
      Grab rails come in all shapes and sizes

      3. Non-slip flooring or anti-slip mats

      Slip-resistant flooring offers extra safety, especially if you have a level access shower. All of our showers come with a slip-resistant floor for your peace of mind. However, if you have a regular shower or bath it’s worth investing in high-quality anti-slip mats.

      Poor quality mats that aren’t secured properly can be just as much of a falls risk as not having a mat at all. That’s why we recommend only thick rubber mats from a trusted retailer. Thick rubber will almost always have great traction, especially if the mat surface is ribbed or dotted. Thicker mats are also less likely to have their corners turn up, which is also a trip hazard.

      disabled older person bath mat
      Make sure you buy a high-quality bath or shower mat

      4. Add stools, boards and seats to aid bathing

      A walk-in shower might make it easier to bathe, but if you’re able to stand you may still find it hard to stand for long periods of time. A hot shower can be fatiguing. Couple this with balance issues and a wet room or walk-in shower is no longer a safe option.

      That’s where stools and seats come in. A shower stool is much easier and more comfortable to sit on than sitting on the floor. These stools are made of hard reinforced plastic, with strong suction pads or rubber ferrules on their feet to keep them in place. They have slats or that allow the water to flow through and drain away.

      You can also have a seat fixed to the wall that drops down and folds up. This keeps things flexible, depending on who is using the shower. If you have a bathtub still then you can use a small shower stool or buy a bath/shower board that sits on top of the bath.

      There are slatted seats to suit baths or showers

      5. Motion sensing lighting

      Automatic lighting can be a blessing, particularly at night or when there is minimal light coming into the bathroom from windows. Motion-activated lights mean that you don’t need to worry about locating a light switch or pull cord in the dark. They are also very energy efficient, given that they turn themselves off when they aren’t in use.

      Many older people will use the bathroom during the night, so it’s always important to make sure that the hallways leading to the bathroom are well illuminated. This will make any potential trip hazards clearly visible.

      6. Thermostatic showers with easy-to-use controls

      A thermostatic shower guarantees a safer shower by keeping a stable temperature for the duration of your shower. There aren’t any sudden changes to the temperature because of someone turning on a tap or flushing the toilet elsewhere in the property. There’s no danger of the shower user being scolded by very hot water. They are a major feature of the dementia-friendly wet rooms we install.

      It’s also wise to make sure the shower is equipped with easy-to-use controls. For some people a one-button shower is appropriate, but also for others keeping the controls familiar will avoid any accidents or confusion. There are remote buttons and Smart functions available for carers and loved ones to keep control over the shower for those that can’t operate it themselves.

      thermostatic shower disabled friendly bathroom
      Thermostatic showers coupled with simple controls mean extra safety

      Improve your bathroom and transform your life!

      The bathroom will always present difficulties for some older people or those living with a disability. However, some thoughtful and clever changes can transform the way that you bathe. Loved ones and carers will have the peace of mind that comes with these extra safety measures. But most importantly, you can remain independent in your own home for longer.

      Some of our suggestions are easier to implement than others. If you need any advice at all, just remember that we’re here to help you in whatever way we can.






        How to save water in your bathroom

        With so many of us struggling with our household bills, one of the easiest to keep under control is your water bill. If you’re on a water meter, saving water and being aware of your water consumption is very important.

        Saving water isn’t only good for your wallet though – it’s great for the environment and our local community. It’s up to us all to play our part and save water where we can, just using the amount we actually need. Over half of the average water use comes in the bathroom, with around a third coming from taking showers and baths. Here’s a brief guide on how to save water in your bathroom.

        Save whilst you shower

        We all know that showers use less water than baths. However, the average shower still uses around 10 to 11 litres per minute. If the average family cut shower time by a minute, they could save £45 on their water bills, not to mention £52 on energy bills and over 11,500 litres of water per year in total. Why not try putting a time limit on your shower? You can do this by simply setting a timer on your phone, or by fitting a new smart shower with time limit functionality built into it.

        Leaking money

        Drips and leaks can also cost you money and waste massive amounts of water in the long run, if you don’t get them fixed. A leaking toilet or constantly filling cistern can waste 400 litres of water every day. Not only is it a terrible waste, it could also cost someone on a water meter over £300 a year.

        Don’t put your money down the drain with a leaky tap!

        A single dripping tap can waste over 60 litres per day – that’s the same as 39 bathtubs full of water. It’s never too late to get it sorted, and our handyperson team is equipped to take care of replacing washers, broken seals and even whole taps.

        Gadgets that help you save

        Nowadays there are many products available which actively help you save water, from dual flush toilets to showers and taps with flow limiters A dual flush allows you to choose a short flush or a longer flush depending on what is needed to clear the waste away.

        We often don’t realise how much water is being used at a higher pressure, so switching to a lower pressure can help a lot. Innovative water-saving aerated shower heads mix air with the water flow. This uses up to 30% less water without losing any of the power of your shower. Built-in flow limiters reduce the amount of water you use by automatically limiting flow or by giving the option to switch to eco mode.

        Get Smart about your shower

        Smart shower systems allow you to customise your showering experience, setting your shower to run for a specified length of time. Then there’s new cutting-edge underfloor heating. You can control when and how you use your heating, which is much more efficient than central heating. Smart digital thermostats even learn the best times and temperatures for your heating, making the whole thing effortless.

        We hope this quick guide is helpful in giving you some ideas on how to save water in your bathroom. Contact our friendly team today to discuss how we can create a modern eco-friendly shower room that’s built around you – but won’t cost the earth.






          Robert’s story: Building an accessible bathroom for Bridget

          An accessible bathroom can improve your home and transform your life. Just ask Robert and Bridget.

          robert bridget we care home improvements accessible disabled bathroom

          This is the story of how an accessible bathroom changed Robert and Bridget’s lives

          Robert lives in Whitchurch with his wife Bridget, 81, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for over 10 years. Robert is Bridget’s carer, and as her condition has advanced has needed to help more and more with washing.

          Recently Bridget found being in the bathroom was becoming a stressful experience. This was because the existing shower had become too difficult for her to step into safely. It was also becoming awkward for Robert to lean in and help her. The toilet had also become a challenge for Bridget to get on and off easily.

          Robert browsed the website and talked things through with his daughter Julie. He then phoned us for a chat. They all went along together to look at the showroom in Bristol to have a look at what was available, try things out and get some professional advice.

          Visiting the We Care showroom

          “I really, really liked Sam, who greeted us and showed us around the We Care showroom” says Robert. “He was so warm and friendly. Sam spent a lot of time talking to me and showing us the different showers.” Bridget tried sitting on a toilet frame with Sam’s help. He adjusted the height so it was just right. After looking through the showroom, the family realised that updating the whole bathroom would make life a lot easier for everyone.

          The next step was to get a We Care Home Improvements qualified occupational therapist to visit the family for a home assessment and to help Robert and Bridget understand what tasks they find difficult and find out other ways or adaptations that might help. A technical officer also came for a visit to assess what Robert and Bridget might need in their new bathroom.

          Robert and Bridget got their own dedicated We Care project manager called David. David got to know the family and put together a personalised plan for them to show them how the building work would progress. He was there to reassure them so that they knew what was happening and when. David managed the entire process from start to finish. He oversaw the work so that Robert had just the amount of control that he wanted. “I felt that David was on my side and I had confidence in him,” says Robert. “He gave me peace of mind and satisfaction that I’d get a proper job done.”

          Getting help with decisions

          David came along with Robert to talk to the plumber and help support Robert in some of his choices of fixtures and fittings: “He helped me make decisions, and I felt like he was my advocate,” he says. It was reassuring too to have David on hand to make a final inspection of the work, too. “And because I was paying We Care for the work and they were signing it off,” said Robert, “I knew that the job was going to be done properly.”

          After the bathroom installation, which the family was really pleased with, Robert also went back to We Care to get some help with arranging a stairlift. When his wife needs to start using a wheelchair, which may be soon, he’s going to get back in touch for some more support because he knows they’ll be able to help. “I liked going to We Care because I was very pleased with the quality of work. And because I trust them,” says Robert.

           

          How We Care can help

          We Care have been in the home maintenance business for over 30 years and our accessible bathroom service is Trading Standards Approved. We are an approved supplier to Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire councils, so you can be sure that our work is of a very high standard

          Next steps

          • Simply call us on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team to find out how we can help you. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
          • Or request a call back and we can get in touch with you.
          • Alternatively, you can pop into our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our beautiful bathrooms and talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team.

          *Names have been changed. Image displayed uses actors