Accessible bathrooms: shower modifications for people living with disability

Accessible bathrooms: shower modifications for people living with disability

When it comes to bathroom accessibility, the shower is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle! For people who live with disability however, taking a shower is a source of anxiety and dread, not pleasure. Using a conventional shower comes with a range of different challenges which can impede their ability to take a shower. Worse, in some cases it can even pose an unacceptably high risk of accident or injury.

It should come as no surprise then that making shower cubicles more accessible is one of the main ways NDIS bathroom modifications can help participants continue taking care of their own hygiene. With appropriate modifications, shower cubicles can be made significantly safer and more accessible for people who live with a range of conditions.

Each case is unique – as such, each shower modification project will also be unique, tailored to the participant’s specific needs and goals. NDIS-registered builders like the team at Restore Home Modifications mix-and-match a range of different modifications, allowing NDIS participants to maintain their independence and privacy in the shower.


Image of newly constructed accessible bathroom

How to make a bathroom accessible: accessible showers for people with disability

While we’ve talked about some examples of bathroom modifications before, the shower is arguably the most important part of any bathroom. Without it, hygiene becomes much harder. As a result, shower accessibility is a key part of any NDIS bathroom modification project.

And as one of the most important parts of any bathroom, we felt it was important to shine a light on shower modifications specifically, and what can be done to make them more accessible.

There are a number of barriers people with disability may face when taking a shower. Fortunately, there are also a wide range of shower modifications our NDIS builders in Melbourne can implement to reduce or minimise these challenges.

Stepless shower bases and roll-in showers reduce tripping

Stepless and roll-in showers are a type of shower modification that removes the raised curb and makes the shower level with the rest of the bathroom. This provides a flat surface that reduces tripping and can make showering easier for people living with mobility issues. In many cases these showers will also be doorless, eliminating another potential barrier for people who live with conditions that affect fine motor skills.

Stepless and roll-in showers can be prefabricated or bespoke. It all depends on the participant’s individual needs, as well as how their bathroom is laid out and designed.

(Did you know? In Section 5.2 of the Standard for Livable Housing Design 2022, all new residential homes now require at least one step-free shower. Click here to learn more about how the National Construction Code is changing to prioritise accessibility.)

Shower widening and expansion support assistive aids

In some cases, making a shower more accessible may not be possible without widening or expanding it. This is often required for assistive and mobility aids – for example, some participants may use a commode, which is a special wheelchair designed for showering and toilet usage. Just as with a conventional wheelchair, commodes require wider spaces for turning and manoeuvring.

The NDIS will often provide funding to widen or expand a shower cubicle for participants who need it. In some cases, this can involve making structural changes to the property. An NDIS bathroom modification builder may first need to remove an existing bathtub to free up space, and in some cases they may also need to extend the bathroom itself.

In addition to minor shower upgrades, Restore’s NDIS bathroom builders in Melbourne can also design and implement more extensive structural changes if required.

Fold-down shower seat installation makes showering easier

Many NDIS participants may have difficulties standing, or live with conditions that impact their balance. Standing can be uncomfortable, and in some cases can increase the risk of slipping or falling. Shower seats are simple modifications that reduce the need to stand, making showering more comfortable for many NDIS participants.

Tap and showerhead upgrades for comfort and accessibility

Showers in many new homes are using detachable showerheads and handle or lever-style taps instead of the traditional fixed shower and knob-style taps. This trend isn’t just driven by a change in style – it’s also in part due to the accessibility improvements they offer.

Detachable shower heads offer greater flexibility than fixed ones. For example, they can allow residents to shower while using a wheelchair or shower seat. Meanwhile, lever and handle-style taps are significantly easier to use, especially for people living with conditions that impact fine motor skills.

Smart shower installation for NDIS participants can make a big impact

One of the most exciting new frontiers in the home modifications space is NDIS smart home modifications. From automatic climate control to voice-activated appliances, disability home automation can change lives in more ways than one.

And that includes showering and hygiene, too!

While smart technology is still filtering its way into shower cubicles, we believe that it has the power to make a dramatic impact. From shower pre-sets, to voice activation, to remote controls, smart technology can allow participants to shower with less effort and more comfort than before.


How NDIS shower modifications make taking a shower safer

Improving accessibility is just one of the goals of NDIS home modifications. The other is to improve safety and protect the wellbeing of participants.

Many people with disability face a higher risk of accidents such as falls and slips, while others may live with conditions that make it difficult to get back up afterwards. Preventing accidents in the shower is an important consideration for any home modification project, but it’s especially critical when it comes to showers.

Fortunately, there are a number of modifications that can make a shower safer to use.

Modifying showers with non-slip flooring can prevent slips

Shower tiles can be slippery, especially when soap and shampoo enter the mix. According to a study from 2006, there are at least 3,700 reported shower injuries each year in Queensland alone, with falls making up the majority of cases.

While anti-slip mats are a cheap fall-prevention solution which can be bought at many stores, they are small and attach to the floor with friction or suction cups, making them unsuitable for long-term use.

Thankfully, in many cases the NDIS will provide funding for sturdier long-term solutions. This can include funding for non-slip vinyl flooring to be installed in shower cubicles. In other cases, NDIS builders may also replace existing tiles with non-slip tiling throughout the bathroom.

How thermostatic mixing valves (TMV) prevent scald injuries

Slips and falls aren’t the only potential hazard when using the shower. Another one is the risk for burns and scalds from too-hot water. Out of all cases of hot shower scalds, approximately 85% of cases involved either the elderly or people living with a disability.

Thermostatic mixing valves are commonly installed as part of accessible shower upgrades, and can prevent burns by ensuring a consistent and comfortable temperature. TMVs also have a built-in failsafe mechanism that immediately stops the water supply in the event of extreme temperature fluctuations, protecting NDIS participants from dangerously hot water.

In addition to reducing the risk of burns, TMVs allow people with disability to pre-set water temperature, making them ideal for NDIS participants with sensory processing disorders.

Shower handrails and grab bars offer stability

Shower handrails and grab rails are simple modifications that can be installed in less than an hour. However, in many cases they can make a big improvement to participant safety. By providing additional stability for participants, handrails and grab bars can help prevent falls altogether, making them an important part of any accessible shower modifications.


Accessible showers and bathroom remodelling for people with disability

Good planning is essential for NDIS shower modification projects

Shower modifications can often be quite complicated projects. Surfaces, fittings, and plumbing may all need to be replaced or updated to meet the participant’s needs. While planning is important for any home modification project, it’s especially important when running water and plumbing are involved.

To avoid potential water damage and other issues, a thorough building modification assessment is a key first step. This is especially important if the shower modifications require remodelling the shower and redoing the plumbing.

For complicated modifications when multiple contractors and services are needed, the NDIS may also provide funding for an independent NDIS building works project management to oversee the modifications.

Contact Restore Home Modifications for NDIS bathroom and shower modifications

Whether it’s a total bathroom upgrade or minor modifications to a shower cubicle, Restore Home Modifications can help. Operating across Victoria, our NDIS-registered builders in Melbourne have helped countless NDIS participants maintain their independence.

In addition to improving shower accessibility, our home modifications team also provide:

In addition to designing and implementing modifications, our team also supporting occupational therapists with home modifications. Thanks to our allied health background, we speak OT and can work closely with your allied health professionals throughout the assessment, application, and construction process. This minimises miscommunications between your OT and building team, making the process as smooth and seamless as possible and ensuring your needs are met.

You can contact our NDIS-registered builders in Melbourne by calling 1300 333 746, emailing or by requesting an online quote.